Bullfighting – Is it Legal or Lethal?


Why do the Bulls have to ever fight? Do they have such a thing called ‘Bullfighting’ of their own that could even cost one another’s lives? This costing of another life even extends to human life being at risk but even more so why do they have a need to fight on their own? Is it because that Bulls don’t budge they go and fight all out to knock-out the other? Nevertheless, the raging Bulls are so speechless to answer those burning questions that quite ironically plague the rest of the mankind who are not behind these no-holds-barred wrestling contests involving Bulls and Cows.

Spanish-style bullfighting may be iconic as a traditional spectacle in the nations of Spain, Portugal and some parts of southern France as well as the Latin American countries of Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela to name a few where in some parts it is even conducted like a ‘blood sport’ and in other countries like Spain as a heritage cultural fest but similar customs have their roots in other parts of the world like in United States, Tanzania, Japan, western Kenya, Turkey and of course as Jallikattu in the Tamil Nadu state of India. The above-cited bullfighting instances are the more popular ones worldwide but there could be even several small-scale bullfights taking place largely in rural areas irrespective of any nation.

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( The bull is not killed in Jallikattu unlike in traditional bullfighting – Source: Fox News )

Is the sacred bull goaded for ‘unsacred deeds’?

The vexed tradition of bullfighting has a plethora of concerns both legal and otherwise like animal welfare, funding, and religion. While this tradition remains largely legal in Portugal, Spain, some parts of southern France and some Hispanic American countries, it is yet illegal in most countries as it violates safety concerns of the bulls employed here. Some gore incidents below highlight how the various bullfighting traditions across the world are either legal or lethal:

  • In medieval Spain, bullfighting was largely a royal sport as only those who could supply and train animals can afford it. The modern Spanish bullfights can be attributed to all-time greatest matador Juan Belmonte who introduced an extremely dangerous (as he was gored) and revolutionary style where he stayed close to a few centimeters from the bull throughout the fight and is still seen as the ideal style emulated by most matadors.
  • The “classic” bullfight leading to the killing of the bull is a form practiced in many Latin American countries and Spain. Freestyle bullfighting has emerged in American rodeo by rodeo clowns who can save bull riders from being trampled/gored by an angry bull.
  • It is essential that the matador/bullfighter be risked for life as it is not Spanish-style bullfighting otherwise which is generally fatal for the bull even though as many as 534 professional bullfighters lost their lives in the ring.
  • Bull wrestling or bloodsport bull against bull fight found in certain parts of the world such as dhirio in India, togyu in Japan, Turkey, and Southeast Asia where the bulls lock horns.
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( “Okinawan bullfighting” or Tōgyū is a traditional sport of Japan – Source: Wikipedia )

  • Numerous animal rights and welfare groups undertake anti-bullfighting actions in Spain and other countries as they consider it is a cruel, barbaric blood sport where the bull could ultimately end up in a slow, torturous death as it suffers severe stress.
  • Facing ban in many countries, indulging in such activities like bullfighting would be liable to internment terms for animal cruelty despite permitting “bloodless” variations often that have attracted a following in France, Texas, Catalonia, and California. Bullfighting has been banned in three Mexican states and was forbidden in several areas of Portugal with the mayor of Viana do Castelo claiming it as the first “anti-bullfighting city” in 2009.

( Not quite ‘bloodless’ bullfight in Texas –  source: Houston Chronicle )

  • A type of bull-taming/bull-riding event practised in Tamil Nadu, famous as jallikattu where a bull is released into a crowd and participants try to grab the bull’s hump or hold on to it for a certain length of time to a certain distance with the aim of releasing a money packet tied to the bull’s horns. With the practice being ruled over in 2014 by the Indian Supreme Court over concerns of mistreatment to bulls prior to jallikattu events, on 21 January 2017 followed by statewide protests the Governor of Tamil Nadu issued a new ordinance that approved the perpetuation of jallikattu events and hence made it legal.
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( Bull dying in a bullfight – Source: Wikipedia )

Despite bullfighting being illegal in most parts of the world, it is still practiced in many regions of the world and is deadly even in areas that have legal permission to the bloodsport.

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