The annual festival has started in the Spanish resort of Dénia. The traditional Bous a la Mar started on Monday afternoon. Already, a bull died during the first session, a reason that gives animal protection organisations a stick to beat with.
Monday, July 10, was the third day of the festivals in Dénia and was the first day of the “Bous a la Mar” event, which is held twice a day from July 10 to 16. Bous a la Mar was declared a Festival of National Tourist Interest in 1993 and is held every afternoon and evening. Furthermore, it is considered one of the most important festivities – and one of the oldest traditions – in Dénia.
How does the running of the bulls of Bous a la Mar work?
According to tradition, hundreds of people gather in the square near the port of Dénia. Bulls are released shortly before in some cordoned-off streets in Dénia and led to the square at the port of the city.
The event is in many ways similar to the controversial, and in some places even banned, bullfighting. In this case, however, people run between the bulls through the streets towards the square at the harbour. Once they arrive at the square, bulls are challenged and both people and some bulls jump into the sea.
Monday bull drowned in the port of Dénia
But, on Monday afternoon, a bull drowned in the sea. This was despite the fact that special boats are used where volunteers try to prevent the animals from dying, they did not succeed on Monday. Several resuscitation attempts were made, but to no avail. Shortly after it was determined the animal had died, that session of the Bous a la Mar was stopped. However, the evening session then continued as usual.
During each session, one or more bulls end up in the water, but in many cases the volunteers in the boats manage to get them safely back on land. According to one of the volunteers, who has participated in the festival for years, the last time a bull died was in 2011. He estimated that not even 1% of the animals die during this event.
Bous a la Mar in Dénia animal cruelty
This event is still seen by the Dénia City Council as one of the most important traditions of the annual festival. Nevertheless, animal protection organisations have been claiming for years that this falls under animal abuse. Various organisations have been fighting a legal battle with the municipality for several years.
On Sunday morning, July 9, another demonstration took place in front of the town hall of Dénia. Animal protection organisations consider the Bous a la Mar to be animal abuse.