No bull: This event needs to end


Jesus Diges / EFE / Zuma Press / TNS

Several runners, or mozos, are chased by bulls, from El Tajo y la Reina ranch, on July 8, 2015, in Pamplona, northern Spain.

Britni Petitt, Photo Editor

The second week of July, every year, over a million people fill the streets of Pamplona, Spain for the San Fermin festival and running of the bull. The festival hasn’t always been this large but was brought to international attention by Ernest Hemingway in the late 1920’s with his book, The Sun Also Rises. Bull runs gained more participants in the 70’s when women were allowed to compete for the first time.  While many flocked to participate in or to watch the bull runs, others criticized various things including, the treatment of the animals, danger involved with the runs, and multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

In recent years, to deal with the allegations, police presence has been increased and more security cameras have been put up to monitor crowds. The use of non-slip chemicals and other safety measures were protested by runners, despite 35 people being injured this year alone and 16 deaths reported since 1910. There are requirements to compete in the runs including that participants must be 18 years old and sober.

Most bans on lethal bull runs have been overturned by different courts, including the Supreme Court as the runs themselves are protected as cultural heritage under the Spanish Constitution.

After 1591, the townspeople of Pamplona moved the San Fermin festival from autumn to summer. This worked out well since it coincided with a large trade fair. For farmers to get their bulls to the bull ring, they would herd them through town. To make the process faster, many would try to excite them and run with them. It’s not certain when others began joining the runs, but it’s grown to now having hundreds of people competing. Many similar festivals around Spain now include bull runs, including Toro de la Vega in Tordesillas.

Shockingly, when Tordesillas local council wanted to change a sentence in a law passed by Castilla y León regional High Court that outlawed Toro de la Vega and the death of bulls in fiestas, the Supreme Court upheld it. It’s considered the first victory for animal’s rights activists who seek to end the practice.

Victory aside, Pamplona is the largest bull run in the nation. The mayor would be open to phasing out bull runs there as well, but it’s too early to tell if the court’s decision is here to stay.