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ANIMALS

Topless protesters get bloody over Pamplona bull run

Topless activists from animal rights group PETA doused themselves in fake blood in protest of Pamplona's famous running of the bulls - taking particular aim at foreign revellers.

Topless protesters get bloody over Pamplona bull run
Photo: Ander Gillenea / AFP

Dozens of supporters of the groups People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Anima Naturalis took to the streets of Pamplona on Tuesday to protest against bullfighting and bull-running in the northern Spanish city.

Wearing nothing but black underpants, bull horns and carrying red buckets reading “Pamplona: Bloodbath for Bulls” in multiple languages, the protesters then poured the fake blood all over their bodies.

“The visual was designed to mimic the drunken revellers – many of whom are American, Australian or British tourists – who douse themselves with sangria at the Running of the Bulls, oblivious to the fact that every single one of the terrified animals they chase through the cobbled streets will be dead a few days later after being stabbed to death in a bullfight,” PETA wrote in a statement.


Photo: Ander Gillenea / AFP.

Pamplona’s annual San Fermín festival has become a symbol of Spanish culture, attracting thousands of tourists each year to watch the running of the bulls.
 
The week-long festivities kick off on Wednesday with the chupinazo – a rocket launch at the city hall. The rest of the days are filled with early morning bull runs as people dressed in the traditional white and red outfits run for their lives from a herd of bulls into a stadium.

Bullfights are then held later in the day.

PETA has also in previous years protested the centuries-old tradition, made prominent outside Spain by Ernest Hemingway’s book The Sun Also Rises.

“This performance is cruel and completely out of step with the values of progressive, modern Spain,” PETA wrote on Tuesday.

“There’s no getting around the fact that foreign tourists who flock to run with the bulls every year are complicit in this bloodshed, even if they would never dream of actually setting foot in the bullfighting arena.”


Photo: Ander Gillenea / AFP.

Spain's tradition bearers have long locked horns with animal-rights activists, who have called for bans on the practice of bullfighting.

Madrid's typically conservative regional government cut bullfight subsidies last year to aid domestic violence victims.

Meanwhile Madrid City Hall, under left-wing mayor Manuela Carmena, gave up the city council's private bullfighting box at Las Ventas.

Catalonia banned bullfighting events in 2012 after the Canary Islands became the first region to pass a ban in 1991.

Pro-bullfighting groups have fought back against restrictions by trying to get the tradition protected under Unesco’s cultural heritage list.

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ANIMAL CRUELTY

‘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.

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