To Fight A Bull

When approaching an issue such as this, you can almost hear the intake of breath from some readers who are bracing themselves for what you might say. As I am sure you are all aware, my reason for writing this article is the recent news that a spanish matador has been killed by a bull, the first spanish bull fighter to be killed by a bull for over 3o years. There is no doubt that bullfighting is a highly controversial issue and no matter what your opinion on the topic, there will always be individuals who find fault with what you are saying.

Bullfighting is described as traditional, a spectacle that takes place during festivals and one that has a deep rooted connection to Hispanic culture. The matador faces a bull, performing different moves, all of which are supposed to have some meaning or connection to art and culture. During this time, the bull involved in the fight is hooked or speared several times over. Eventually, the bull is killed by the sword. Due to this activity, around 250,000 bulls are killed each year. Those involved in bull fighting claim that until fights, when the bulls are typically 6-7 years old, they have lived full and rich lives, grazing on the best pastures and being properly cared for. The argument is, that you should compare this to an animal reared for meat, who will typically only live for 2 or so years.

So, justification lies in the fact that these animals are playing a part in a rich tradition and until the day they step into the ring, they live a good life. But this justification is less than weak. What if today, someone were to be burned at the stake as a witch, a witch who, until her burning, had lived a good and full life. One could argue that she had been killed because witch hunting is deep rooted in British culture and before that, she lived quite happily. Does that make the occurrence of such a horrific event any better? Of course not! But then I have made the mistake of using a human in my example, because, as I have read over the weekend, the death of a bull is nothing compared to the death of a human. Humans are, in the opinions of some, more important. That is an opinion that I do not share. The death of the bull is just as horrifying, if not more so, because this animal has not chosen to take this tradition up as a career. It has been bred and reared for one reason, to be killed by a human in a festival. Bull fighting subjects these animals to pain, torture, fear, disorientation and ultimately, a slow and painful death. Nothing can justify such an activity. To me, the idea of watching such a thing is beyond grotesque.

There has been coverage in the media, calling the incidence of the matadors death playing out live on television as ‘horrifying’, with phrases such as ‘when the bull attacked’ being frequently used. Horrifying that a bull fighter was killed, yet the idea of spearing and torturing a creature until it is killed is not horrifying? Describing the bull as attacking, when he himself was being attacked. If that was two humans, you would argue that the other was simply defending itself. Inevitably, I would then be asked, ‘so you’d rather the matador died than the bull? You would rather a human died? A human with a family and people who cared about him?’ In all honesty, I would rather you didn’t fight the bull. I would rather this activity did not exist in civilised society. I would rather thousands of bulls did not die each year in the name of tradition. In any other circumstance, such as in the wild, if I were to approach a bear, or a buffalo, running at it and trying to harm it, I would expect the animal to retaliate. Why wouldn’t it?! It is basic animal instinct to fight or flight and when in situations such as the one that the bull finds itself in, where it cannot flee, it will fight for its life.

However, this was not the end to this story. We then heard that the mother of the bull who killed his matador, was then slaughtered herself. Why? It’s that word again, because it is tradition to kill off the bloodline of the offending bull. Once again, an innocent animal loses its life because a human decided to fight one of its offspring. Kill off the bloodline? As if there was something innately evil in their blood, which makes them defend themselves when they are being attacked. Once again, it is an argument used to defend another cruel activity that makes absolutely no sense.

Sometimes, when there are controversial issues in the world of animals and wildlife, you sometimes attempt to understand the other side of the argument. With bullfighting, I cannot fathom it. To be frank, I find it a sadistic tradition that has no place in 2016. How many cruel sports have been outlawed, including dog fighting and badger baiting, yet for some reason, bull fighting continues. Tradition is not a word to hide behind. Traditions can be great, but often, they are shameful. If a matador being killed by a bull is so very horrifying and shocking, then do not step into the ring with the intent to harm and kill a powerful animal that is, quite rightly, going to try and defend itself. Instead of our headlines highlighting the horror of the death of the bullfighter, maybe they should be focusing on the horror that is bullfighting and what thousands of bulls are subjected to every year for human pleasure.

This is the moment where those who disagree with you accuse you of being a bunny hugger or something to that effect, someone who loves cows and bulls and is therefore a weirdo. Although that is a very mature argument, it is not the case. In fact, anyone who knows me, knows that I am afraid of cows. Due to some childhood experiences, which I have unsuccessfully tried to shake, I am slightly fearful of cows and bulls. However, that is my personal issue and although I have a fear, I do not hate them or have any other negative feelings toward them. I have a general love and care for all animals (guess I am a bunny hugger). I have enough humanity (odd choice of word) that makes the thought of animals in pain, utterly repulsive to me. Unfortunately, it is activities such as bullfighting that make me ashamed to be part of the human race.

Follow me on twitter for wildlife photography and nature news @DaisyEleanorug

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Eleanor Daisy Upstill-Goddard
I have been a bird enthusiast since I was a child and have just completed my MSc at Newcastle University on 'Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Management.'
Eleanor Daisy Upstill-Goddard

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