Man dies during bull-running festival in Spain

People dressed in white in front of six bulls
People run in front of bulls, San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 7, 2014. photo: Reuters/Joseba Etxaburu

A man died from injuries he got during a bull-running festival in Onda in eastern Spain, authorities said on Saturday.

In bull-running events, people voluntarily run in front of a group of bulls. Humans try to avoid the bulls who are let loose on the streets.

Some Spanish people enjoy being part of bull-running, even though there have been many injuries and some fatalities in the past. For the bulls, the outcome is always death as they are used in bullfighting events after the bull-running.

Authorities allow bulls to run free between people knowing the risks. The surroundings are not natural for bulls, and so many people screaming and running around them causes them a lot of stress.

When the 55-year-old man and the bull collided at the festival in Onda, the bull’s horns wounded the man’s left thigh. He died in hospital later on Saturday in the nearby town of Villareal, emergency services said. Authorities cancelled all other bull-running events in Onda.

In recent years, a public debate over whether bull-running festivals should be cancelled has become more heated, and only a small number have taken place since Spain’s COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

Animal rights activists say the practice of bull-running and bullfighting is cruel, while supporters say it’s part of Spanish culture.

The festivals “can be equally fun without having an animal that has to die or run through the streets so that we can have fun,” animal rights activist Josetxu Sagarra said during a protest against bullfighting and bull-running in Spain last year.

“Little by little, we are making people aware of this and people are advancing and rationalizing that nobody needs to suffer,” he added.

A 2020 survey by Electomania, a polling company, found that only 18.6% of Spaniards believed bullfighting should be preserved, 46.7% of Spaniards were in favour of banning bullfighting, and 34.7% were not in favour of bullfighting but also did not want a ban.

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