Why PETA Urges Everyone to Steer Clear of the Running of the Bulls

Most tourists who decide to partake in the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, don’t realize that all the bulls used in the event will be killed within hours of its start.

running of the bulls© Tras los Muros

During the San Fermín festival, which takes place from July 7 to 14, six bulls (uncastrated males) and at least six steers (young neutered males) are released into the streets each day before being corralled into the bullring. A total of 48 bulls are tortured and killed over the course of the week, as thousands of people witness their violent deaths.

Here are 11 reasons why you should skip the Running of the Bulls:

1. A rocket is launched to terrify the bulls as they’re forced onto city streets mobbed with screaming festival attendees. Panicked, the animals slip and slide down the narrow streets and alleyways among thousands of shouting people, including tourists, who hit them with sticks and otherwise abuse them along the half-mile route to the bullring.

2. The frantic animals often fall or crash headfirst into walls while running at full speed, sometimes causing them to break bones or even die.

3. The violence against animals also encourages violence against women: The 2016 event alone brought the arrests of 16 men for reports of violent sexual attacks, including rape and attempted rape, and 11 other allegations of sexual assault. One study found that people who abuse animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans. If someone doesn’t have empathy for animals, it’s very likely that they don’t have empathy for anyone.

4. The event is extremely dangerous for humans in other ways, too. Between 50 and 100 attendees are injured each year, and 16 have died.

5. After the Running of the Bulls, bullfights are held in which bullfighters have been known to drug bulls to weaken them, drop sandbags on their backs, shave their horns to throw off their balance, and rub petroleum jelly into their eyes to impair their vision. Bullfighters cheat in all kinds of ways to “win” fights that the bulls have no choice about being exploited in.

6. In the evenings, the bulls are herded into the bullring. In the first stage of the six bullfights, men on horses circle a bull and drive lances into his back and neck.

running of the bulls© Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

7. Then, they twist the lances deeper into the gaping stab wounds to ensure that a significant amount of blood is lost (between 3 and 6 liters, which is 18% of a bull’s blood) and that the animals can’t lift their heads or defend themselves.

8. In the next stage, banderilleros dart around the terrified, bleeding animals while plunging banderillas—brightly colored sticks with a harpoon point on one end—into their already-injured backs. The wounded animals are forced to run in circles, until they stop because they’re too dizzy, disoriented, and weakened from blood loss to continue.

© Tras los Muros

9. Next, a matador enters the ring and—after around 10 minutes, or whenever they decide that the bull is too weak to continue—tries to sever the dying bull’s aorta with a sword.

10. If the matador misses, the bull is usually subjected to even more suffering: The matador uses another sword to cut the spinal cord so that the bull will fall and be unable to move. Then, the matador stabs the bull in the back of the head with a dagger.

© Tras los Muros

11. The bull is often paralyzed but still conscious and twitching as someone cuts off his ears and tail and holds them up as “trophies” in front of the cheering crowd. Finally, the bull is chained by the horns and dragged out of the arena.

running of the bulls© Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

running of the bulls© Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals


Partaking in an event that ends with someone standing over a defenseless animal and stabbing him multiple times with spears, harpoons, swords, and a dagger until he’s dead—and then demanding applause—is barbaric and inexcusable.

© Tras los Muros

This cruelty isn’t entertainment—and it shouldn’t even be called a “bullfight,” because the bulls never have a fighting chance. It’s tormenting and torturing them to death in front of audiences full of rowdy tourists who have no respect for animals or don’t understand the true nature of the event.

More than 100 Spanish towns and cities have banned bullfighting, and a 2016 poll found that 81% of Spaniards ages 16 to 65 oppose it. That figure rises to 93% among 16- to 24-year-olds. The future is bullfight-free.

running of the bulls

If you travel to Spain, enjoy the art, beaches, breathtaking architecture and views, castles, flamenco dances, hikes, live music, parks, plazas, nightlife, soccer games, and sunsets. Go on tours, meet locals, visit museums and markets, and try vegan pinchos, tapas, sangria, and sorbet. Just remember: Cruelty is not a part of culture worth preserving. Seek thrills somewhere other than bullfights! Here are just a few of the things that you can enjoy instead:



la alhambra

La Alhambra

vegan bao

Vegan tapas

Balearic islands, spain

Balearic Islands

Las Setas, Spain

Las Setas

Plaza de ESpana

Plaza de España

Vegan pinchos

Vegan pinchos

Spanish Sangria


Vegan Sorbet


Spanish view

La Giralda

View in Granada

Mirador San Miguel Alto

Tell Spain’s Prime Minister to Ban Bullfights and Bull Runs Nationwide

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind