Spanish animal rights groups mobilise against annual bull-spearing festival

A centuries old carnival in Spain where a bull is pursued by horsemen until he is speared to death has sparked fierce debate between opposing factions over its suitability in the modern era.

Animal rights activists protest against the El Toro de la Vega in 2014.

Animal rights activists protest against the El Toro de la Vega in 2014. Image by Partido Animalista / CC BY-SA 2.0

The ‘El Toro de la Vega’ festival in the town of Tordesillas in Spain which starts this Wednesday will see thousands of people visit the area in support of the traditional event while an equally large number will gather in Madrid to protest by symbolically breaking spears at the ritual which they say is 'extreme animal abuse'.

The Independent in London reports that last year over 40,000 turned out for the bull ‘spectacle’ to support an event which inspires immense local pride in Tordesillas. There is more than just bull-spearing though in this festival as there have been scuffles between the supporters and protestors with as many as 30 people injured in 2014 as missiles were thrown during the killing.

Extra police are being called in this week to ensure that those violent scenes are stamped out this year.

Animal rights activists have begun putting pressure on supporting acts around the festival including bands not to play there. The La Union Spanish group cancelled its gig on foot of such an approach while the Mayor of the town was surrounded by a group chanting for the festival’s abolition.

An online petition calling for the mayor of Tordesillas to be thrown out of his party received 120,000 signatures.

In Valladolid, the Partido Popular party politician Jesús Julio Carnero described the festival as a 'deep-rooted tradition'.

The president of the animal rights association CACMA, Antonio Moreno said all over the world now pressure was growing against that sort of abusive activity.

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