Photographer's Note

Bull dying in a bullfight

Bullfighting is criticized by many animal rights activists, referring to it as a cruel or barbaric blood sport, in which the bull suffers severe stress and a slow, torturous death. A number of animal rights or animal welfare activist groups undertake anti-bullfighting actions in Spain and other countries. In Spanish, opposition to bullfighting is referred to as antitaurina. However, some commentators have called into question how much worse the welfare of the bull is across its life as compared to the lives and death of meat cattle in commercial farming.

Bullfighting guide The Bulletpoint Bullfight warns that bullfighting is "not for the squeamish," advising spectators to "be prepared for blood." The guide details prolonged and profuse bleeding caused by horse-mounted lancers, the charging by the bull of a blindfolded, armored horse who is "sometimes doped up, and unaware of the proximity of the bull", the placing of barbed darts by banderilleros, followed by the matador's fatal sword thrust. The guide stresses that these procedures are a normal part of bullfighting and that death is rarely instantaneous. The guide further warns those attending bullfights to "Be prepared to witness various failed attempts at killing the animal before it lies down."

Bullfighting is banned in many countries; people taking part in such activity would be liable for terms of imprisonment for animal cruelty. "Bloodless" variations, though, are permitted and have attracted a following in California, and France.
Anti-bullfight demonstration in Zaragoza.

In Spain, national laws against cruelty to animals have abolished most blood sports, but specifically exempt bullfighting. Over time, Spanish regulations have reduced the goriness of the fight, but only for the matadors and horses, introducing the padding for picadors' horses and mandating full-fledged operating rooms in the premises.

The Barcelona city council held a symbolic vote against bullfighting in 2004, but bullfighting in Barcelona continues to this day, against the majority of public opinion. Several other towns in Spain have banned bullfighting.

State-run Spanish TV canceled live coverage of bullfights in August 2007, claiming that the coverage was too violent for children who might be watching, and that live coverage violated a voluntary, industry-wide code attempting to limit "sequences that are particularly crude or brutal". In October 2008, in a statement to Congress, Luis Fernández, the President of Spanish State Broadcaster TVE, confirmed that the station will no longer broadcast live bullfights due to the high cost of production and a rejection of the sport by advertisers. However the station will continue to broadcast ‘Tendido Cero’, a bullfighting magazine program.

A Portuguese television station also prohibited the broadcasting of bullfights in January 2008, because they are too violent for minors. In March 2009, Viana do Castelo, a city in northern Portugal, became the first city in that country to ban bullfighting. Mayor Defensor Moura cited torture and imposition of unjustifiable suffering as a factor in arriving at the ban. The city’s bullfighting arena will be torn down to accommodate a new cultural center.


Finally, it has also been criticized that bullfighting is financed with public money. In 2007, the Spanish fighting bull breeding industry was allocated 500 million euros in grants, and in 2008 almost 600. Some of this money comes from European funds to the livestock.

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Additional Photos by Sebastian Trawinski (mirandes) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 34 W: 23 N: 50] (544)
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