Bullfighting: controversial 'blood sport' excluded as Spain tightens animal welfare rules with new law

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
People in Spain will no longer be allowed to buy animals from pet shops under the new law, but matadors slaying bulls will still be allowed

A new law in Spain outlawing the use of animals in any recreational activity that cause them pain and suffering has excluded bullfighting - one of the country's most controversial traditions.

Spain’s first specific animal rights legislation came into force on Friday (29 September), AP reports. More specifically, the law targets domestic animals, introducing fines of up to 200,000 euros (£173,000) for mistreating them.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, bullfighting - which almost always sees the animals slain - is notably missing from the legislation.

Bullfights are widely regarded as part of Spain’s cultural heritage, with some forms of the practice pre-dating the Roman empire. It is thought to have existed in close to its current form in Spain since Medieval times.

Spanish matador Jose Maria Manzanares performs a pass with a muleta on a bull during a bullfight at the Malagueta bullring in Malaga (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images)Spanish matador Jose Maria Manzanares performs a pass with a muleta on a bull during a bullfight at the Malagueta bullring in Malaga (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images)
Spanish matador Jose Maria Manzanares performs a pass with a muleta on a bull during a bullfight at the Malagueta bullring in Malaga (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

However, the practice is highly controversial, especially in the international animal welfare community, will bulls - and sometimes matadors - dying. In a recent Peta campaign, Mexican actress Kate del Castillo said that “bullfighting is torture, not culture".

The ad campaign said bullfighting was neither a fight nor a sport, but a "bloodbath that glorifies the torment and killing of bulls". During a typical bullfight, people frequently drive lances into the animal's back and neck muscles the weaken it, before the matador eventually tries to kill it with a sword.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Even traditional bull runs - like the famous running of the bulls - have attracted controversy, with the Animalist Party Against Mistreatment of Animals political party telling Euronews: “Events involving bull are more than just bullfighting in the arena. I guess they are escaping people’s radar because normally in popular bull festivals the animal doesn’t die in front of the people."

She continued: "These popular festivities are taking human lives as well as animal lives, and the truth is there’s almost no control around them."

Earlier this year, the Spanish government did ban 'dwarf bullfighting' - a supposedly comic practice featuring dwarves dressed in costumes, to bring it into line with EU directives on discrimination against disabled people, the Guardian reports.

Another proposal in the new law, which would have included hunting dogs, prompted an outcry in some rural communities, and the government backed down - meaning hunting with dogs is still permitted.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The new law has brought with it a swathe of other changes for Spain. It has banned buying pets in stores and online, but has given pet shops a grace period to find homes for their animals. In the future, it only will be legal to purchase pets from registered breeders.

The use of wild animals at circuses and gives owners six months to comply. It allows zoos to keep using the marine mammals in their dolphin shows until the animals die.

Pets will now be allowed into most establishments, including restaurants and bars. The law also aims to introduce mandatory pet insurance and registration as well as training for owners, AP reported.

However, those requirements and some other legal aspects were delayed because detailed administrative procedures had not been drawn up in the absence of a sitting government - after Spain's general election in July proved inconclusive, leaving political parties in coalition-building talks.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.