Thursday, 17 February 2011

Bullfighting and the Ban.

Ecuador have just finalised the questions for a referendum due to be held later in the year, which include the issues of cockfighting and bullfighting.
Bullfighting in many forms takes place in nine countries across Europe and Latin America. Its future is uncertain, however, as more and more countries are starting to look at their laws and whether animal cruelty issues should take precedent over tradition.

A major blow has been dealt to the blood sport's fans, as Spain, the home of bullfighting has now ruled live fights cannot be broadcast on state television before 10pm. This is the time of the watershed and it has been decided children should not be able to watch such animal cruelty.

The running of the bulls, such as that of San Fermin in Pamplona, can still be shown, but not the fights, which generally start at six or seven o'clock in the evening. So is it possible to moderate some aspects of the practice and allow others to continue?

In Costa Rica bull fights take place, but it is illegal to kill the bull. This could be considered more humane, but does make it less of a spectacle. The issue of drugging the bulls and shaving their horns has also come to light in recent years.

In a watered down version of the famous Pamplona running of the bulls in Granada, Nicaragua I saw people running through the streets ahead of a tired old bull. In an attempt to keep with tradition the community staged the event, with a bull more inclined to sit down in the street and have a rest, than make headlines by goring a participant to death.

Bullfighting is inherently bloody and gory - something it is hard to get away from. And this is why more and more societies are questioning whether to allow its practice to continue.

Every town in Spain has its own bull ring and it has always been an important part of the country's cultural identity. Huge cut outs of bulls populate Spain's landscape and famous matadors are household names.

Standing on the Monte Gibralfaro in Malaga I remember looking down on the town and seeing the distinctive shape of the bullring. I young matador was practicing with a cast iron representation of a bull on wheels. He elegantly swooped and moved around the arena practicing his moves.

But Catalonia have already decided to ban the sport from 2012 and it is hard to believe it will survive in the rest of the country for much longer. Now the questions are starting to be asked, action will surely follow.

Has this bull had its day?

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