Bull Festivals, Bullfighting Dangerous Sports in Spain

Bull festivals every summer in Spain always make headlines. Another death has occurred at a bull festival, this time in Xativa, Spain. A man who might have been drunk went down close to one of the fiercest bulls in Spain and was gored to death. The bulled, named “Raton,” has killed two other people over the past 10 years in various festivals.

Bull events and bullfighting are dangerous sports in Spain where animals and humans often have deadly encounters. Matadors dressed in fancy garb wave colorful capes at bulls before eventually attempting to kill them with decorative spears, knives and swords.

Largely shunned by animal rights groups that call bullfighting inhumane, the sport dates back over 1,000 years to the 800s C.E. when the first bullfights were done on horseback. Eventually, gladiator-style events occurred when commoners would fight against bulls. Many of the rituals were promulgated by butchers who slaughtered the animals for meat.

As many as 30 people were injured in August of 2010 when a bull jumped barriers and went into the stands in Tafalla. A spectator was gored in the chest in April after he got too close to a bull and was knocked over by the animal.

Violence in the traditional sport has been met with some action. BBC News reported in 2010 the Catalonia region of Spain banned the sport after 180,000 people petitioned the region’s ruling parliament. The ban takes effect in January of 2012.

Critics of the ban fear many thousands of Spaniards will be out of work in tough economic times. They also believe tourists will stay away once the bullfights are no longer en vogue .

The barbaric sport is much more tame in Canada. A bullfighter’s job on the rodeo circuit is to distract the bull after a bullrider is knocked off. Sometimes they are known as clowns, but their real job is to make sure the bull forgets about the person he just knocked off his back.

The most famous bull festival in Spain occurs every midsummer during Pamplona’s running of the bulls. The Boston Globe reports the running of the bulls is the main event at the San Fermin Festival, people dress in white and stare down death as they attempt to run ahead of a herd of galloping bulls through the cobbled streets of Pamplona. The festival is in honor of Pamplona’s first Catholic bishop, Saint Fermin. Bulls are run for a half mile through the streets during each of the nine nights of the festival.

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