A Shocking Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Bullfight

Each year, thousands of bulls are barbarically stabbed to death in bullrings around the world. Defended as a cultural tradition, this deadly pastime has no place in a civilized society.


Meet the bull:

Before a bull steps into the arena, handlers make sure the odds are stacked against him. Housed in crowded, dark pens, the bull comes out anxious and disoriented. He may be weakened by beatings, have his horns shaved to keep him off balance, or have petroleum jelly rubbed into his eyes to impair his vision.


Assailed by the jeering crowd, the bull enters the ring. He’ll fight for his life but has little chance of coming out alive.

In a typical bullfight, once inside the arena the bull is approached by picadors—men on horses who drive lances into the bull’s back and neck muscles. This attack impairs the bull’s ability to lift his head and defend himself. The picadors twist and gouge the lances to ensure maximum blood loss.


The bull isn’t the only victim in a bullfight. Blindfolded horses are used to run the bull in circles. The horses are viciously spurred and can quickly become exhausted. They can also be seriously gored or killed by the charging bull. Sometimes they’re forced to pull the bull’s dead body out of the ring.


Barbed sticks with flags, called banderillas, continue to be driven into the bleeding bull.


After provoking a few exhausted charges from the dying animal, the matador attempts to kill the bull by cutting his spinal cord.


The matador comes in for the killing stab when the exhausted bull is already near death.


If the matador misses, succeeding only in further mutilating the animal, the conscious but paralyzed bull may be chained by his horns or neck and dragged out of the arena.


In a final barbaric act, the bull’s ears and tail are often cut off as “trophies.”


The bull takes his last breath, never knowing why he has been stabbed to death.  His lifeless body will be taken away to be processed.


The bull’s throat is slit to make him bleed out, and then he is gutted.


Ending the Carnage

Bullfighting arenas are closing around the world. In October 2013, the mayor of the city of Concepción, Peru, supervised the demolition of the city’s bullring. That same month, France’s Green Party introduced a proposal to ban bullfighting. In 2010, Catalonia’s Parliament banned bullfighting, and last year, the Mexican state of Sonora did the same. Ecuador banned killing animals for entertainment in 2011.

Continue spreading the word to friends, family members, and coworkers—anyone who may be traveling to Mexico, South America, Portugal, Spain, or France—and ask them not to be tempted to see what bullfights are all about. Tourists’ dollars perpetuate these deadly spectacles.

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