Three men have been gored by bulls during the opening run of Pamplona’s bull-running festival, the Red Cross said earlier today.
The annual festival usually sees around 2,000 participants, dressed in white and wearing red neck scarves, sprint away from a dozen bulls. The event lasts for just a few minutes – usually between three and six.
This year, during the 875-metre run through the northern Spanish city of Pamplona, two men from the United States, aged 29 and 35, and a 46-year-old from Navarra in Spain were gored by the bulls. A fourth man was also reportedly injured.
One of the men was caught by a bull’s horns in the thorax and another in the scrotum, the Red Cross said.
The bulls were from a cattle breeder in Andalucia, well known for rearing dangerous animals which are often responsible for injuries at the festival.
The Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona drew in 1.5 million visitors to the region last year but recently it has been under criticism. In 2016, it made headlines over sexual violence when police arrested 16 men in relation to five violent attacks, including one incidence of rape, and 11 allegations of sexual assault.
Unsurprisingly, the event, which is estimated to have been taking place since the 13thcentury, draws ongoing criticism from animal rights activists. Every year huge anti-bullfighting protests are held on the eve of the festival.
Director of AnimaNaturalis in Spain, Aida Gascon, read a statement before the festival, in which she criticised the old tradition, saying: “From tomorrow in this city, more than 50 bulls will be tortured to death.
“They will be persecuted and led by a crowd to the bullring, the plaza of shame and the last minutes of their lives will be full of suffering and torture.
“We know that we will not be able to stop these deaths but we will continue here so that those deaths do not go unnoticed.” She also called on political representatives to show ‘courage, justice, solidarity and empathy’.
The first day of this year’s festival saw streets stormed by topless campaigners, wearing bull horns and smeared in fake blood, calling for an end to the centuries-old festival. Both People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and AnimaNaturalis took part in Wednesday’s protests, calling for a festival ‘without blood’.
Words: Paddy Maddison