By Jenny Moxham
10th October 2011
In the news this week [8 Oct 2011] we learned that a matador in the Spanish city of Zaragoza, had been horrifically gored in the face. He is likely to suffer facial paralysis and lose the sight in one eye - but should we feel sorry for him?
Bullfighting would be better renamed bull torturing - because that's exactly what it is. In simple terms it is the systematic torture of a a lone, frightened animal by a gang of armed thugs.
The bulls used in these spectacles are not ferocious beasts.
Most are gentle, placid animals who only react violently in self defence.
Prior to the fight they are held for a number of hours in tiny isolation cells without food, water, light or company in order to confuse and panic them.
They may also be beaten in the kidneys with sandbags, given drugs and laxatives and have vaseline rubbed in their eyes to debilitate them.
The first part of the bullfight involves the bullfighter’s assistants waving capes at the bull so that the bullfighter can observe the animal's maneuvers, thus giving him an unfair advantage.
Then come the picadors on horseback who repeatedly plunge their spears deep into the bulls back and shoulders, ripping and tearing the muscles and tendons that are required for him to defend himself.
The horses are also victims. Blindfolded so that they cannot run away, they are used, by the picadors, to draw the terrified and confused bull into an attack. Although they are wrapped in padding, they are regularly injured and killed as the bull desperately attempts to defend himself.
With the bull gasping, bleeding profusely and exhausted, three banderilleros, on foot, plunge their "banderillas" - sharp barbed sticks - into the bull's shoulders. This further weakens the pitiful animal who is now tiring.
As more of these barbed sticks are slammed into the bull, the already heavy blood loss increases, further weakening and crippling him. Often he is hardly able to walk or raise his head much less defend himself or fight.
Sometimes, the bulls are so disabled by this time that they literally crawl or collapse completely.
At this stage the "brave" matador enters, waving his cape and taunting the bull who defecates and urinates uncontrollably.
After feeding the bloodlust of the drunken spectators, the matador rushes his victim, and stabs him with his sword. The sword is supposed to hit the heart and instantly kill the bull but this almost never happens.
Sometimes he is still alive, but paralysed when dragged away and may still be conscious when his tail and ears are cut off as trophies.
Thankfully these bloody spectacles have now come to an end in the Spanish Province of Catelonia after parliament voted to outlaw bullfighting, following a petition by animal rights’ group Prou with 180,000 signatures.
Hopefully this will have a domino effect all over Spain - but we too can do our bit to help put an end to it.
Since the bullfighting industry relies heavily on financial support from curious tourists we can help by refusing to be one of them.