MADRID – The Spanish summer is the peak for the traditional bull festivals. However, for thousands of bulls, cows and calves it is a time of stress, exhaustion and suffering.
Incidents such as a bull that drowned in Dénia or another that passed out in Morella are just the tip of the iceberg. Human suffering also occurs, such as the tragic death of a 74-year-old woman from an escaped bull. Consequently, organisations such as CAS International and AnimaNaturalis are committed to documenting these celebrations, raising awareness and suing authorities for violations.
More than 18,000 bull festivals a year in Spain
More than 18,000 such bull parties are organised annually, involving more than 30,000 animals. These animals are often repeatedly subjected to these feasts. Furthermore, as soon as they are no longer considered ‘suitable’, the slaughterhouse awaits them. Valencia is at the top of this list with the largest number and diversity of bull festivals.
Estefania Pampin Zuidmeer, a CAS campaigner, shares her personal connection to the region and how it feels for her to visit these well-known areas for her work. She emphasises that many of these celebrations are private and that the outside world is unaware of the real circumstances.
For example, a bull was forced to jump into the sea during the Bous a la Mar festival in Dénia, an extremely cruel festival. Bulls are not made for swimming, and such actions can lead to drowning, as was the case on July 10. However, such tragedies are not new; in 2014, another bull died in a similar manner.
— Sergio Holguín (@SerHolguin) July 15, 2023
Animal cruelty and danger to humans were also documented in Morella. CAS and AnimaNaturalis were harassed during their shooting there and were not allowed to film the chaotic scenes and the two incidents that took place there. Unfortunately, these incidents are not an exception but form a common picture of what happens during these celebrations.
The summer was full of incidents. A bull in Oropesa del Mar collided with a pole, in Gata de Gorbos a cow was knocked unconscious after a collision and in Teruel an exhausted bull was forced to continue despite its condition. At other parties, the bull’s horns are set on fire, causing the animal to endure immense stress and pain before being slaughtered in the arena or slaughterhouse.
⚠️ Nuevamente los aficionados taurinos trataron de impedir que grabáramos lo… pic.twitter.com/KzepsiEzTY
— AnimaNaturalis (@AnimaNaturalis) July 30, 2023
Not only animals, but also people suffer from these parties. The death of a 74-year-old woman in Almàssera is a sad example. Minors are also at risk physically and emotionally. But despite warnings from the United Nations, Spain continues to expose them to these dangerous events.
Bull festivals not only endanger animals but also pose a threat to people’s safety. Escaped bulls, injured spectators and the exposure of minors to violence are some of the many risks.
Research on government subsidies for bull parties
To address these issues, CAS International and AnimaNaturalis conducted a thorough study of Spain’s 18,000 bull festivals. They have collected information on locations, animals involved and grants from the authorities. With the results, they hope to convince the states to end their financial support for these parties and invest in more valuable things for the community. The results of their research will be released in September.