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January 28, 2011

Bullfighting Myths

Humane Society International

1. I should attend a bullfight if I want to experience the country’s true culture.

Spain, Mexico and other Latin American nations are all beautiful countries, rich in history, art and culture. There are so many other ways to enjoy and experience a country’s traditions that do not involve harming animals. 

Even if bullfighting has been used as entertainment in the past, that is no argument for continuing this cruel and outdated practice. Other traditions of cruelty as entertainment, such as Roman gladiatorial games, have been relegated to history, as bullfighting should be.

In countries that still allow bullfighting, only a small and declining percent of the local population participates. According to a 2006 Investiga (formerly Gallup) survey titled “Interés por las corridas de toros” [Interest in bullfights], 72.1 percent of Spaniards have no interest in bullfighting and Investiga expects interest to continue declining in the years ahead. [1]

Many spectators at bullfights are tourists, not members of the local culture. For example, more than 90 percent of bullfight spectators in Cancun, Mexico are from the United States or Canada.

2. Bulls are violent and aggressive animals by nature.

On the contrary, bulls are generally calm, peaceful animals who tend to behave violently only when defending themselves or their territory. According to zoologist Jordi Casamitjana, bulls are “very peaceful animals that spend most of their live[s] eating grass, sleeping and playing with each other... ” [2] The breeders of bulls used in bullfights admit that these bulls are purposely bred to be aggressive,  fierce, and to attack, not defend. 

3. Bullfighting is a fair sport—the bull and the matador have an equal chance of injuring the other and winning the fight.

If this were the case, there would be an equal number of matadors and bulls that die in the ring. According to ex-matador D. Alvaro Múnera, “Los toreros muertos son muy pocos, es un índice insignificante al lado de los toros que se matan cada día en las corridas [The dead bullfighters are very few; it is an insignificant number next to the bulls that are killed every day in the bullfights].” [3] The matador, unlike the bull, can use planned tactics and previous training to deceive and have advantage over the bull.  Furthermore, the bull is subjected to significant stress, exhaustion, and injury before the matador even begins his “fight.”

4. Bulls do not suffer during the bullfight.

Contrary to claims that bulls do not suffer at any stage of the bullfight,  numerous scientific studies have proven that bulls do suffer in the ring. Veterinarians, zoologists and bullfighters themselves all agree that bulls undergo both physical pain and psychological stress during these bloody events. According to Dr. Susana Munoz of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, “Durante todo el tiempo que dura esta tortura psicológica el toro esta sufriendo un intenso estrés . . . El toro sufre muchísimo [During the whole time that this psychological torture lasts, the bull is suffering an intense stress... The bull suffers a great deal]. [4]


1. Investiga. 2006. RANKING DE TOREROS MÁS VALORADOS E INTERES POR LAS CORRIDAS DE TOROS.  http://www.ig-investiga.com/encu/toros06/intro.asp. Accessed August 6, 2008.

2. Casamitjana, Jordi. "‘Suffering’ in bullfighting bulls; An ethologist’s perspective."  http://www.ffw.ch/files/Corrida%202008/eng_jordi_casamitjana.pdf. Accessed July 14, 2008.

3. Fraile, Julio Ortega. OtroMadrid.org. Entrevista a D. Alvaro Múnera, de Torero a Luchador Contra la Tortura.  http://www.otromadrid.org/articulo/5837/entrevista-alvaro-munera-torero/. Accessed July 16, 2008.

4. Muñoz Lasa, Susana. Porqué pienso que el toro sufre un dolor inmenso. http://www.equanimal.org/articulos/porque-pienso-que-el-toro-sufre-un-dolor-inmenso.html/. Accessed July 7, 2008.

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