Humane Society International

Every year, approximately 250,000 bulls are killed in bullfights. Bullfighting is already banned by law in many countries including Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Italy and the United Kingdom. Although legal in Spain, some Spanish cities, such as Calonge, Tossa de Mar, Vilamacolum and La Vajol, have outlawed the practice of bullfighting. There are only a few countries throughout the world where this practice still takes place (Spain, France, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador).

An unfair fight

Assertions that bullfighting constitutes a fair and even fight between the bull and the matador are simply untrue. Each bull is weakened both mentally and physically before coming face-to-face with the matador. Prior to entering the ring, the bull suffers the stress of transport and may also endure branding. In the first act of the bullfight, the matador’s assistants provoke the bull with large colorful capes, then the picadors (men on horseback) pierce the bull’s neck with a barbed lance. All of this takes place before the matador’s “fight” even begins.

An agonizing death

After the bullfighter, or matador, stabs the bull with banderillas (wooden sticks with spiked ends), his objective is to “conquer and kill the bull with a swift clean kill by placing a sword in a coin-sized area between the bull’s shoulders.” (1) Advocates of bullfighting argue that if the matador aims correctly, the animal dies in a matter of seconds. This type of quick, clean death, however, is not the norm. In most cases, the matador misses the target, injuring the bull’s lungs and bronchial tubes, causing blood to flow and bubble through the animal’s mouth and nose.


1 Brook B. 2004. The Real Mexico. Mexico’s Dance with death. http://www.therealmexico.com/bullfighting.htm. Accessed July 11, 2008.

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