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.

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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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  • Dinara Yessentayeva

    Posted July 8, 2014

    We must stop this cruelty!

  • Giuliana Rinaldo

    Posted August 14, 2014

    The pictures of the bulls being tortured by being stabbed to death with these thick steaks speaks for themselves. People don’t understand that many traditions began before the printing press was invented and therefore people were more socially and academically uneducated and ignorant, making many traditions archaic and of course cruel. Traditions, like anything else is meant to change and progress with the times which should focus on being more humane and compassionate.

  • Gabrielle Ravenda

    Posted August 14, 2014

    Unbelievable that we are supposed to be civilized Human beings, yet there is not another animal on this planet that kills and tortures for FUN??? As for the people who watch this crap, get a life, watch a real sport NOT a blood sport. As for the matadors who think this is a way to make a living I pray to god you die an especially painful death just as you have caused excruciating deaths for countless bulls. BASTARDS!

  • margherita przytulska

    Posted August 15, 2014

    STOP THIS CRUELTY

  • Isolde Montoya Laske

    Posted August 15, 2014

    People should understand that this arcaic tradition belongs to centuries ago, where ignorace and cruelty goes by hand with tradition. Nowadays is unacceptable to torture and feast at the same time. Along the time the progress brings up respect and mindfulness that is being compassionate! Please stop this cruelty!

  • Kathy Jackson

    Posted August 15, 2014

    These photos are so heartbreaking. How can we let this happen? Why can’t ALL humans have compassion? Please everybody, we must all ban together to stop this insane cruelty.

  • Noel Luna

    Posted August 15, 2014

    Bull Fighting… Actually Bull murdering is just a cruel inhumane sport… Grow up people… These so called traditions should have died with the gladiator … Show a little common sense and compassion…

  • gilda niknezhad

    Posted August 15, 2014

    I have been the most unfortunate one to have seen bullfights in person, and it was horrifying to watch the poor animal so brutally tortured and see the humans including their 2 and 3 year old children watch hon as if this was a soccer game. I did not know what it entailed until I saw it in person. it is not a bull fight it is multi bull masacre as each arena does 6 bulls for each show they put on and they usually put on several a day. most grusome thing you could imagine. some how this has to end.

  • gilda niknezhad

    Posted August 15, 2014

    additionally, the horse they ride into the masacre is most fearfull and frothing from the mouth and bucking the whole time eventhough they have covered it’s eyes obviously can feel acutely what is going on with all its other senses. horrid thing, how can we humans be so incredibly stupid

  • Irene Leggett

    Posted August 16, 2014

    How can such heartless, brain-dead people actually think this is culture, sport, fun and entertainment. Why does the Catholic Church allow such barbaric, cruel brutality to continue? All involved in this atrocity should hang their heads in shame, and when they reach their end, I hope they rot in hell where they belong. Nothing but animal abusers and killers.

  • Edith Kugel

    Posted August 16, 2014

    And yet the spaniards are so pround of their “tradition” and socalled
    “artform”!and is only a despicably form of cruelty. It all boils down to education.

  • Rudel du Preez

    Posted August 18, 2014

    Shocking,would like to do the same to the bastards

  • lisa lee

    Posted August 19, 2014

    stop this barbaric slaughter

  • Elizabeth Rios

    Posted August 22, 2014

    Thank – God – the world is coming out of the dark ages and realizing the cruelty this event presents – We share this planet with all of God’s creatures -their lives must be respected and valued!

  • Michelle

    Posted September 1, 2014

    I went to a bullfight when I was in Madrid to experience the culture. I left as soon as I saw the first bullfight. The bull has no chance. I have never seen anything so cruel, and I hope I never do see anything that cruel again. All I could imagine the whole time is someone stabbing me with needles in my back and spine.

    The horses the matadors ride also take a beaten.

    God gave us the responsibility of taking care of the creatures on this earth. Hurting creatures needlessly is wrong.

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