Each year, more than 40,000 bulls are barbarically slaughtered in bullrings around the world. From the moment they enter the ring, the bulls don't stand a chance. They may be weakened by beatings with sandbags, debilitated with laxatives, drugged, have their horns shaved to impair their navigation, or have petroleum jelly rubbed into their eyes to impair their ability to judge distance.
In a typical Spanish bullfight, the bull enters the arena and is approached by picadors—men on blindfolded horses who drive lances into the bull's back and neck muscles. This impairs the bull's ability to lift his head and defend himself. They twist and gouge the lances to ensure significant blood loss.
Then banderilleros enter on foot, distract the bull, and dart around him while plunging banderillas—brightly colored sticks with harpoon points on their ends—into his back. When the bull has become weakened from blood loss, the banderilleros run the bull in circles until he becomes dizzy and stops chasing.
Finally, the matador appears and, after provoking a few exhausted charges from the dying animal, tries to kill the bull with his sword. If he misses, succeeding only in further mutilating the animal, an executioner is called in to stab the exhausted and submissive bull to death. The dagger is supposed to cut the animal's spinal cord, but even this can be blundered, leaving the bull conscious but paralyzed as he is chained by his horns and dragged out of the arena.
If the crowd is happy with the matador, the bull's ears and tail are cut off and presented as trophies. A few minutes later, another bull enters the arena and the sadistic cycle starts again.
The tourist industry is one of the biggest supporters of bullfighting. Travel agents and bullfight promoters portray the fight as a festive and fair competition. They don't tell tourists that the bull never has a chance to defend himself, much less to survive. Most foreign visitors who witness a bullfight are repulsed, disgusted, and saddened by the cruelty of the spectacle and never want to see one again.
Tourism also keeps the cruel "Running of the Bulls" in Pamplona, Spain, in business. The bulls are kept in crowded, dark enclosures, and when they are prodded onto the streets with electric shocks, they are momentarily blinded by the sunlight. Runners hit the animals with rolled-up newspapers and twist their tails. The panicked animals often lose their footing on corners and crash into walls, breaking bones and injuring themselves. Most tourists don't know that all the bulls will later be killed in the bullring.
Opposition to bullfighting is mounting. In April 2004, the Barcelona City Council declared Barcelona an anti-bullfighting city in an effort to eventually ban this primitive blood sport, and in November 2008, the Initiative for Catalonia Greens, one of the three main political parties in Catalonia, resolved to oppose bullfighting and other forms of cruelty to animals. In total, 52 Catalán municipalities have declared themselves anti-bullfighting, and a motion has been submitted to the Catalonian Parliament that could expand existing cruelty-to-animals laws to include bullfighting. According to a Gallup survey taken in October 2006, 72 percent of Spaniards show no interest in bullfights, up from 54 percent in the 1980s.
Despite the name, Portuguese bullfights are anything but bloodless. The bull is stabbed with banderillas by a matador on horseback, causing deep wounds and significant blood loss. The bull is then tormented by eight forcados, seven of whom grab the animal's head while the eighth pulls on his tail, eventually stopping the exhausted animal. The bull is then dragged out of the arena and left bleeding to await his slaughter, hours or even days later.
Bulls aren't the only victims in bullfights. Horses are used to carry people with spears and other weapons in order to stab the bull to weaken him. Horses used in bullfights are blindfolded and sometimes have wads of newspaper stuffed in their ears so that they won't be spooked by the charging bull or the noise of the crowd. These animals are often gored as riders force them to move close to the terrified bulls, who try to protect themselves. Each year, approximately 200 horses are killed in bullrings around the world.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.