Campaigners demand opera drops bull from starring role

More than 40,000 people have signed a petition to prevent a real bull from appearing in an opera at Madrid’s Royal Theatre.

Campaigners demand opera drops bull from starring role
A live bull appears in Moses and Aaron at Madrid's Teatro Real. Photo:

The petition is calling on Spain’s Ministry of Culture and the Mayor of Madrid to stop a real live bull from being used in the opera Moses and Aaron in the capital’s Teatro Real (Royal Theatre).

The bull appears on stage in a 15 minute scene in the opera, which will run from May 24th to June 17th.

Using the animal “exposes the bull to lights and loud noises, constant movement and unnecessary stress both during the 15 minute scene in which it features and during the rest of the opera the its rehearsals,” says the petition, which was launched on by Jaime Alcázar.

The petition is calling for the opera to be cancelled or for a statue of a bull to be used in place of a real animal.

The opera faced similar criticism when it was staged in Paris; animal rights groups presented a petition to Minister of Culture Fleur Pellerin calling for the opera to be closed because of the “stress on the animal” and the “suspicion that it is drugged to be able to better control the scene, which concerns a 1,500kg animal”.

Madrid’s Royal Theatre has said that the bull receives “no type of medicine, drug or painkiller” during the opera and has “two specialized carers to look after its wellbeing, transport and to provide veterinary care.”

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‘Gratuitous cruelty’: Spain probes suspected abuse at animal testing lab

Spanish police and prosecutors said Monday they were investigating an animal testing lab after undercover footage showed staff there tossing around, smacking and taunting dogs, pigs and other animals.

'Gratuitous cruelty': Spain probes suspected abuse at animal testing lab
Handout: Cruelty Free International

“We were dismayed to see the images,” the head of the government’s directorate-general for animal protection, Sergio Garcia Torres, told AFP.

“It is a blatant case of animal abuse.”

Footage published Thursday by Cruelty Free International shows appears to show animals at the Vivotecnia animal testing facility being cut into apparently without having received anaesthetics.

Staff were also filmed swinging dogs and rats around and in one clip someone is drawing a face on a monkey’s genitals as the animal is pinned to a table.

The group said the footage was taken by a whistleblower who worked at the facility, which is on the outskirts of Madrid, between 2018 and 2020.

“There can be no doubt that such gratuitous cruelty causes unnecessary distress and suffering,” the animal rights group said in a statement.

“It is also unlawful.”

Police and public prosecutors said Monday they had opened separate investigations into Vivotecnia, which carries out experiments on animals for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries.

The company’s phone number was no longer working on Monday and its web site was down for maintenance.

In a statement cited by Spanish media, Vivotecnia chief executive Andres Konig said he was “shocked” at the images. But, he added, they did not “demonstrate the day-to-day reality at Vivotecnia”.

Following the outcry caused by the release of the footage, the Madrid regional government on Sunday temporarily halted activity at the animal testing facility.

Animal rights political party PACMA has filed a lawsuit against the managers of the company and urged the government to step up its supervision of animal testing.

“It’s a very opaque world and it could be that this is happening regularly without us knowing,” PACMA president Laura Duarte told AFP.

The Vivotecnia laboratory animals were examined by veterinarians and are being moved to other facilities.