Running of the Bulls protest: Animal rights campaigners demonstrate in Pamplona ahead of festival

The annual bull running event and subsequent bullfight is part of the San Fermin festival which gets underway tomorrow

Tourists cannot attend northern Spain’s annual bull running event without being complicit in the “unnecessary and archaic” murder of defenceless animals, campaigners have said, as they stage a protest against the tradition.

More than 150 activists descended on Pamplona’s main square today ahead of the nine-day San Fermin festival and its heavily criticised Running of the Bulls.

Protesters, garbed in the festival’s traditional uniform of white clothing and red Pañuelico scarf, daubed themselves in fake blood and held signs that read in numerous languages: “You Run. Bulls Die.”

Their faces were also painted to look like the Grim Reaper in order to, protesters say, remind the thousands of tourists that what may seem like harmless fun actually results in the bulls being “repeatedly speared and stabbed before the matador attempts to sever the exhausted animal’s spine with a dagger.”

Running of the Bulls in 2013 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) and Spanish animal welfare organisation AnimaNaturalis organised the demonstration.

The Running of the Bulls is a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages, when the cattle had to be herded through the streets en route the bullring where they would be killed for food.

Though bullfighting was banned in Catalonia in 2012, partly as a result of the region’s desire to separate itself culturally from the rest of Spain, it is still allowed elsewhere in the country.

The argument on whether bullfighting, for all its historic value, has a place in Spain’s future has been raging for many years.

Kirsty Henderson, Peta campaign coordinator, said that while many nationalities made up the demographic of the activists, a ban on the tradition is also being fervently sought by Spaniards.

“The tide is really turning on bull fighting. It’s not a tradition that Spanish people want to protect any more,” she told The Independent. “Bullrings are closing.”

“It’s very hard to claim it’s a Spanish tradition,” Ms Henderson added, referring to the amount of tourists that make up a large part of the visiting audience.  

“The only reason it’s still going as an industry is because of tourism. The vast majority of people who attend this event are tourists who do not understand what happens to the bulls at the end.

“You cannot attend this event as a tourist thinking it’s just a bit of fun without lending your support to the way the bulls are violently killed. It’s so unnecessary. It’s archaic.”

The running is open to anyone above the age of 18 and its participants are primarily made up of men, though women do take part.

READ MORE: Free run, don't slaughter bulls in Pamplona
Will bullfighting survive in modern Spain?
Bullfighting ban is more about Catalonia than cruelty

A local travel agent says six bulls, each weighting 500kgs or more, will provide ample challenge for fearful runners battling the bulls on a route spanning roughly 850m. There have reportedly been 15 deaths since records began just over a century ago.

Peta isn’t the only charity calling for the end of the tradition. British charity The League Against Cruel Sports has entreated travel firm STA to end its package deals to the festival.

The organisation says that supplying tours to the event only keeps the “cruel and barbaric practices” alive.

Joe Duckworth, Chief Executive of the League said: “Tourism plays a major part in the continuation of bullfighting and the exploitation of the animals, who are simply being abused and killed for entertainment is truly shocking.

“As rightly pointed out by ABTA, travel companies have a responsibility to the welfare of animals in tourism, a responsibility that can no longer be shirked - which is why we want to see 2014 as the last year STA support this abhorrent activity.”

Ms Henderson echoed this view and said that the bulls are kept in darkness prior to the race so that they’re blinded by the sunlight when it begins.

Peta, which organises a protest each year, also claimed that a recent poll showed that 76 per cent of Spanish people have no interest in bullfights.

“I have no doubt that [the tradition] will end given the support. People were crying here today at the protest. It is absolutely driven by passionate Spanish people who want to see this outlawed in this country,” she said.

This year’s festival runs from 6-14 July.

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate Pricing Analyst - 6 months / 1 year analytical experience

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Year 2 Teachers needed for day to day supply

£110 - £130 per day + Competitve rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Yea...

Year 4 Teachers needed for day to day supply across the region

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Nursery Teachers needed for supply roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Nu...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits