Protests Against Bullfighting in Pamplona As San Fermin Begins
The annual San Fermin Festival is set in Pamplona, Spain, July 6-14, this year. Much excitement surrounds this annual event, and tourists from all over the world flock to the historic Navarre region of Spain for a week of celebrations. Without doubt, the highlight of the celebrations is the Running Of The Bulls, which involves hundreds of people running in front of six bulls down the narrow streets of Pamplona. Invariably, the six bulls participating in the run are slaughtered when the run eventually concludes at the Pamplona's Plaza de Toros.
Aside from attracting significant tourist revenue, the Running of the Bulls and bullfighting in Pamplona have always attracted animal rights activists who stage protests against what they believe is animal abuse. The protesters claim that the bulls are beaten, sedated by drugs, disoriented by electric prods, have muscles in their neck cut and petroleum jelly rubbed into their eyes to blind them before they start running. Once in the bullfighting arena, matadors implant daggers in bulls’ backs, which animal rights activists say leads the animals to die a bloody and painful death.
On July 3, 180,000 people signed a petition demanding that bullfighting be banned in northeastern Spain.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) reports over 100 protesters from Germany, US, Australia and Eastern Europe are expected to arrive in Pamplona this year to stage a protest, which will involve protesters lying naked with artificial blood sprayed all over their bodies and fake daggers sticking out from their backs. The protest is supposed to raise awareness about the painful death inflicted on animals in bullfighting. Similar protests were staged in advance of the San Fermin festival in London and New York.
In addition, blood-red graffiti graced the streets of Pamplona this year as part of the anti-bullfighting campaign. Specifically, the name of a famous matador José Tomás was mentioned, calling Tomas a "murderer."
Celebrities like Hollywood actress Pamela Anderson and British comedian Ricky Gervais have made a public stance against bullfighting.
The proponents of bullfighting insist that the San Fermin Festival is part of Spain's heritage and should be maintained. However, PETA claims more than 70% of Spaniards no longer show interest in bullfighting.
Despite PETA's protests and the seemingly dwindling interest among Spaniards, all 19,000 tickets for the Running of The Bulls event were sold out this year.
Similar animal rights concerns are being voiced as the famous Calgary Stampede that is taking place in Calgary, Canada, from July 3-12, this year. Protesters in Canada plead to stop the practice of calf roping, which involves calves being yanked back by a rope thrown around their neck. Another group demanded that the Calgary rodeo be banned from the airwaves.