Are Bloodless Bullfights Much Better than Traditional Bullfighting?

Danielle Maffei

While bullfighting is prohibited in a number of countries around the world, there still are some countries that continue practicing this inhumane tradition, such as Spain, France, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador. Some cities in Spain have banned bullfighting; however, in contrast, there are other Spanish cities such as Valencia and Madrid that have bullfighting schools, which teach children as young as 9 years old the “art” of bullfighting.

In these countries, the bulls stand no chance. The bulls are weakened significantly before the fights with either drugs or having sandbags dropped on their backs. Further, before the fight, their horns are shaved to keep them off balance, and they might have petroleum jelly rubbed into their eyes to worsen their vision. The bulls also have their necks and backs pierced with barbed lances, which impairs the bulls’ ability to lift their heads. During the fight, bullfighters stab them with banderillas (shown in the picture below), or sticks with a sharp point on the end, weakening the bulls even more, until the bulls becomes dizzy from blood loss. Finally, the bullfighter will try to sever the bull’s aorta, which would kill the bull quickly; however, more times than not, the bullfighter misses the aorta, and only maims and tortures the bull even more. If the bull is not killed in the arena, he is dragged out of the arena by his horns and killed later.

Bullfighting is not federally prohibited in America. What is prohibited nationally, however, is killing the bull in the arena as a finale of the bullfight. State statutes address whether certain types of bullfighting is permitted in its jurisdiction. For instance, the California legislature banned bullfighting in 1957; however, the statute included a religious exemption, which permitted bloodless bullfights (not to be confused with the alleged anti-cruel sport, rodeo clowning, which entails rodeo clowns actually riding the bull, as seen in the picture below). Anti-cruelty statutes in Wisconsin and Texas ensure that bloodless bullfights are an exception and are not banned. Other states, such as Rhode Island and Florida, have an explicit ban on bullfights of all forms.

Bulls are supposedly not injured nor killed in bloodless bullfights; thus, supporters contend that this alternative is more humane and cruelty-free. A bloodless bullfight involves a Velcro adaption of the banderilla and placing Velcro on the bull’s back, which causes less harm to the bull because the sharp point is replaced with a Velcro tip. This method has the same visual effect as the banderilla latching onto the bull’s back.

Still, this practice consists of intentionally aggravating and provoking the bull, causing the bull to have significant stress and exhaustion. Even with the Velcro banderilla, the bulls are nevertheless exploited and suffer at the expense of human entertainment. Further, there is most likely unseen abuse toward these bulls outside of the arena, and, although bulls are not killed in the arena, they are typically taken to a slaughterhouse afterward, or they are used again and again in these fights until they are no longer able to participate. When that occurs, they are killed.

In order to avoid animal cruelty altogether in bullfighting, it seems that the best approach is to prohibit bullfighting throughout the nation. It is indisputable that bulls are essentially tortured in these fights, bloodless or not, and the ultimate result for these bulls is inevitably death. Even if, for argument’s sake, the bulls are not slain in the conclusion of their fighting careers, the whole nature of the “sport” encourages violence and aggression toward the bulls and is therefore inhumane.

Moreover, in regards to California’s statutory exemption for religion, it is clear that bullfighting is more of a cultural activity versus a religious one. Bullfighting, according to many supporters, is an “art” and a “tradition,” when, in truth, it is actually a sadistic form of entertainment –– which, if banned, would not violate anyone’s fundamental right of practicing religion. Consequently, bullfighting should not be constitutionally protected. Cockfighting and dog fighting are also viewed as cultural activities, but they are banned in more than half the states throughout the country under anti-cruelty laws, so what difference does it make to ban bullfighting as well? Additionally, why would bullfighting not be included in these anti-cruelty laws to begin with? Each “sport” incites violence and torture and always results in the animals’ unnecessary and cruel deaths.

Such a sport does not belong in America, or any civilized society. There are several traditional activities that have been abandoned, and bullfighting should unquestionably be added to that list. Despite the argument that the bulls are not tortured or killed in the arenas, it is evident that the bulls still undergo violence and are exploited, and the bulls are eventually slaughtered regardless. Therefore, is bloodless bullfighting any better than traditional bullfights? It does not seem so.

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