PAMBLONA, Spain (AFP) – Dozens of animal rights activists were chased by fellow activists through the streets of the Spanish city of Pamplona on Tuesday to protest alleged cruelty to animals at the world-famous San Fermin Festival of Running at the Bulls Festival.
At the protest on Tuesday, dinosaurs were supposed to represent the bulls and mobsters behind revelers in San Fermin. Activists carried banners reading “Bullfighting is prehistoric”. They said the goal was to show that running can be tender and hold without any animal cruelty.
This was the 18th annual protest led by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, and the Spanish NGO AnimalNaturalis. Protests usually take place the day before the festival begins, with the traditional “chuppinazu” fireworks exploding at midday in the Pamplona City Council Square. The race starts on Thursday.
“Bullfighting is a long ritual execution of bulls and many tourists who come to bullfights do not actually realize that the same bulls running down two streets were later killed in the bullring that day,” Chelsea said. Munro, Chief Digital Campaigns Officer at PETA.
“They stabbed repeatedly for 20 minutes until they died,” Munro said. “We want tourists to know that their money supports this really tough industry.”
The protests have done little to dampen enthusiasm for San Fermin, which typically sees Pamplona’s population of 200,000 balloon to about one million during the peak days of the nine-day festival.
The festival has been suspended for the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Authorities fear that mass activities at the festival could lead to a significant increase in infections this year as well.
The highlight of the festival is the early morning ‘run’, which sees thousands of people run frantically to avoid six bulls as they dash along a winding cobbled road to the city’s bullring.
The rest of the day is devoted to eating, drinking, dancing and cultural entertainment.
The six bulls are always killed in bullfighting every afternoon during the festival
“The debate over the future of bullfighting in Spain has never been alive and the authorities must take a clear stand,” AnimalNaturalis’ Jana Oritz said in a statement. “We ask them to have the courage to say whether they prefer torturing animals or, on the contrary, are ready to prohibit such barbaric acts.”
Bullfighting is still very popular in Spain although the movement against it has gained a lot of momentum in recent years. Bullfighting is only banned in the Canary Islands although it is not practiced much or at all in some other regions such as Catalonia and the Balearic Islands which include Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza.
Animal rights groups cite Culture Ministry figures, saying 90% of Spaniards did not attend any of the festivals featuring bulls in 2014-2015, the last year the issue was surveyed.