The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain has been a tradition for over 400 years. Every year from July 6th to July 14th, the Festival of San Fermin takes place in Pamplona. This tradition, as well as the practice of bull fighting, has come under protest from animal rights activists and individuals who believe that they are too dangerous for human participation.
The tradition began as a facet of the Festival of San Fermin. Bullfighting was a common attraction held during auspicious events. In order to provide the bulls for the entertainment, the ranchers needed a method of transporting bulls from their corrals, into the city, and up to the arena. While it is not known how the actual process of the ancestral ranchers guiding the steers through the city streets has transformed into the modern spectacle we now know it as, the fact is that it has occurred over and over again without protest, until recently.
Many find the practice of the tradition to be morally reprehensible because of the treatment of the bulls. The herd of bulls is coaxed through the streets using various techniques to frighten them. They are forced to follow a blocked-off path through the city. The fate of these beasts is not a pleasant one. Bulls, by nature, are not violent or extraordinarily aggressive. In order to prepare the bull, they are abused by stabbing, partially blinding, and dosed with drugs to make him weaker. Many anti-bullfighting advocates point out that the bullfighter is never truly in danger, and forcing the bull to participate is a sign of moral decay in Spain. Catalonia, the first major province to adopt a ban on bullfighting is being praised in the hopes that more will follow – although the sport is considerably more popular in the southern provinces.
Organized demonstrations against bullfighting have been occurring for years, without major success in imposing a wide-spread ban. PETA and a Spanish animal rights group, AnimaNaturalis, assembled several protests alone. However, despite uproars caused by the protests, the event has continued on, relatively unimpeded. The fundamental question is this: Is it right for a tradition to continue occurring when commonly held moral stances define it as a cruel and malicious act, despite its popularity? At what point does society say that a tradition is archaic and should be forgotten? Or should the notion of the animal’s rights not be considered?