Spanish Bullfights: a charming event or an act of cruelty?

I recalled enquiring if Mena, one of my close friends, could bring me to watch a bullfight. It is something that I could say that most of my circle friends would have not seen in person and this would be the same for my siblings. Every year, me and my siblings would plan the next trip and pick destinations that none have actually gone to because of our competitive streak. Thus ultimately my trip to Mexico remains to be my pride whenever travelling becomes the main topic of discussion. This is primarily because my siblings have not gone to a country where the main spoken language was not English nor a destination where it takes longer than 20 hours. To top it all, they do not travel solo. 

Amongst the various activities that I wanted to do in Mexico, the bullfight is one of the events that I had not experienced, not because of other factors other than it being a cruel joke. Honestly what was told to me was that the losing bull will get stabbed in the heart by the matador. That was inconsistent by what has been perceived by me where the man is often in the utmost danger of being killed, if he was thrown off by the bull. 

Although many bullfight attendees are mostly tourists, 90 percent of them never return to another fight after witnessing the relentless cruelty that takes place in the ring. Spanish bulls and their many counterparts in Mexico and other countries are victims of a savage display disguised as “art” or “entertainment”. The event was often set up, branded as festive, artistic, and a fair competition between skill and force to the unknowingly naive attendees. What they do not reveal is that the bull never has a chance to defend itself, much less survive. 

Former bullfighters reported that the bull is intentionally tranquilized or fed with laxatives in addition to beatings to the kidneys prior to the fight. It is said that for weeks before the event,  petroleum jelly is rubbed into their eyes to blur vision with heavy weights hung around their neck while confined in darkness for hours before being released into the bright arena.

It has been reported that the abuse of bulls began in 1987 where more than 90 percent of bulls killed in fights had their horns shaved before the fight. This involves sawing off several inches of the horns so the bull misses his thrusts at the altered angle.

Throughout the match, gradually the bull will be weakened by fear, blood loss, and exhaustion, the matador attempts to make a clean kill with a sword to the heart (Tercio de muerte). Unfortunately the matador rarely succeeds and must make several thrusts, often missing the bull’s heart and piercing his lungs instead. Afterwards leading to the finale, the spinal cord of the bull will be cut by a dagger while still fully conscious, it is paralyzed as its ears and tail are cut off to celebrate the matador’s “victory” also known as Tercio de muerte. 

Uniquely, Mexican bullfighting has an added feature of novillada, or known as baby bullfights. There is no fun or competitive or sportsmanship ritual in this slaughter of calves. Baby bulls are brought into a small arena where they are stabbed to death by children spectators. These bloodbaths end with spectators hacking off the ears and tail of the often fully conscious calf lying in his own blood. 

Although the bulls in these fights are not killed in the ring, they are often slaughtered immediately afterward. Bulls today are specially bred for bullfighting raised on ranches located in various parts of Mexico. Selective breeding has enabled ranchers to create a bull who will die in a manner most satisfying to the public where the bulls will return to the torture repeatedly which will be portrayed as wild and vicious oponent to the heroic matador.


If you are sadistic and enjoy watching acts of violence and speed accompanied by cheers and beers, you may definitely visit a country that permits bullfighting. In the case where you are a tad opposed to animal cruelty, inform your tourism operator about it. Visit the resort town of Tossa de Mar, the very first town in Spain to ban bullfights and inform others about bullfighting and urge them to protest as well. When tourists no longer support bullfights, there is no need to continue the abuse of bulls whether there is actual bloodshed or otherwise.

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