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Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban

Thousands of Spaniards took to the streets of Madrid on Saturday to demand an end to the centuries-old but controversial tradition of bullfighting.

Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
Demonstrators hold a banner reading "I want you alive" in front of "Las Cortes". Photo: Curto de la Torre/AFP
The protest came after the anti-bullfighting lobby successfully managed to obtain a ban on a famous festival which ended with a bull being speared to death.
   
The regional government of Castilla y Leon in June banned the killing of bulls at town festivals, in a move that targeted the northern region's controversial Toro de la Vega festival where horsemen chase a bull and spear it in front of onlookers.
   
The Madrid protesters held up banners saying: “Bullfighting, the school of cruelty” and “Bullfighting, a national shame”.
   
A spokesman for the Party Against the Ill-Treatment of Animals (PACMA) said it was “time to end bullfighting and all other bloody spectacles”.
   
“Bulls feel and they suffer,” said Chelo Martin Pozo, a 39-year-old from Seville who had come to Madrid for the rally. “Bullfights are a national shame and if they represent me, then I am not Spanish,” she said.
   
Madrid resident Azucena Perez marched outside the parliament holding up a banner saying: “Bullfighting and the Bourbons should be im museums,” referring to the country's royal family.
 
 “I think our laws should prohibit the torture of animals as a form of entertainment,” the 36-year-old said, admitting, however, that her grandfather was a big fan of the corrida.
   
Spain's first pro-bullfight lobbying group, the Bull Foundation, made up of breeders, matadors and aficionados, was set up last year.  A number of protest rallies in favour of the controversial past-time have
been held recently, such as one in the eastern city of Valencia, a major bullfighting city, which drew thousands of people in March.
   
Valencia, Spain's third largest city, meanwhile, has banned the tradition of setting bulls loose with lighted torches attached to their horns called “bous embolats”.
 
Leading Spanish daily El Pais this week said that events involving bulls that 1,736 bullfights had been staged in the country last year, or 132 less than in 2014.
   
Supporters of bullfighting, known as “aficionados”, are not giving up without a struggle. They see bullfighting as an art that is an integral part of Spanish culture, like flamenco.
   

OFFBEAT

Madrid police end escaped camels’ night on the town

Eight camels and a llama took to the streets of Madrid overnight after escaping from a nearby circus, Spanish police said on Friday.

A camel in a zoo
A file photo of a camel in a zoo. Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

It was not immediately clear how the long-legged runaways managed to get out but Quiros Circus, which owns them, blamed sabotage by animal rights activists.

They were spotted at around 5:00 am wandering around the southern district of Carabranchel close to where the circus is currently based.

“Various camels and a llama escaped from a circus in Madrid overnight,” Spain’s national police wrote on Twitter, sharing images of eight two-humped camels and a llama hanging around a street corner.

“Police found them and took care of them so they could be taken back safe and sound,” they tweeted.

There was no word on whether the rogue revellers, who are known for spitting, put up any resistance when the police moved in to detain them.

Mati Munoz, one of the circus’ managers, expressed relief the furry fugitives — Bactrian camels who have two humps and thick shaggy coats – had been safely caught.

“Nothing happened, thank God,” he told AFP, saying the circus had filed a complaint after discovering the electric fence around the animals’ enclosure had been cut.

“We think (their escape) was due to an act of sabotage by animal rights groups who protest every year.”

Bactrian camels (camelus bactrianus) come from the rocky deserts of central and eastern Asia and have an extraordinary ability to survive in extreme conditions.

These days, the vast majority of them are domesticated.

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