Woman gored at Spanish 'blood fiesta' fights for life

Bull-run victim: Animal rights activist in undercover campaign against village traditions accused of 'suicidal' behaviour
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Vicki Moore, the British animal rights campaigner who has waged a long war against bullfighting, was in a serious condition in a Spanish hospital yesterday after being gored during a "blood fiesta''.

Mrs Moore, 39, from Southport, Merseyside, was working under cover to film the event in the village of Coria, 40 miles north of Caceres, south- west Spain. During the festival, local people force bulls along cobbled streets and blow steel-tipped darts at them.

Mrs Moore, who had disguised her identity by dyeing her black hair blonde and using a false name, was injured when one of the half-ton animals caught her with its horns as she tried to climb a barrier to safety. The animal tossed her into the air 10 times and gored her. She suffered 11 major wounds from the animal's horns.

A spokesman for the San Pedro de Alcantara hospital in Caceres said Mrs Moore was in a very serious condition. "Her vital signs are holding, but she remains on a respirator." She was conscious but heavily sedated. Mrs Moore's husband, Tony, 50, flew to Spain on Monday to be with his wife.

People in Coria dismissed any suggestion that Mrs Moore may have been a victim of rowdy behaviour. Juan de Juanes, a spokesman for the village mayor said: "It was quite the opposite. Several local chaps tried to distract the bull but it kept on tossing and goring her."

Mr Juanes added: "What Mrs Moore was doing was suicidal." He said she had been standing in the street filming for several minutes. She should have sought refuge behind safety barriers.

The Mayor, Jose Maria Alvarez Pereira, said there had been "no negligence on the part of the town hall". He added: "All those who decide to participate in the bull-running take responsibility for the risks of their doing so." Mrs Moore recently told the Sunday Times how she became involved with the animal rights movement. "It was totally irrational. I was propelled into it after reading a small piece in the Today newspaper about how a donkey was going to be crushed to death in a Spanish fiesta. From then on, there was no peace in my mind."

She rescued the donkey, Blackie, from an event in the village of Villaneuva, in which he was due to be ridden by the heaviest man in the locality.

She and her husband subsequently set up an organisation called Fight against Animal Cruelty in Europe. She continued to campaign alongside Spanish welfare groups for better treatment of animals and the abolition of the blood fiestas. Recently, she and her husband focused their attentions on the live export trade.