Portugal’s heated bullfighting debate is back in the limelight again due to a video showing a truck filled with people brutally running over a bull that got loose during a traditional bullfighting event in the Azores.
The seven-minute clip uploaded to YouTube shows several people trying to rope a bull in a large plot of land, eventually deciding to run it over as several dozens of people watch (see below).
One can be heard saying: “They had to do it. It (the bull) was going to kill people.”
Though the fate of the animal is unclear from the video, Azores-based newspaper Diário Insular says the bull died.
The incident happened in Fontinhas on the Terceira Island of the Azores archipelago during a ‘Tourada à corda’ event last Saturday (July 23).
In this type of bullfighting typical to the Azores, the bull is controlled by a rope around its neck and paraded through the streets.
As local company Tour Azores explains on its website: “Depending on the stamina, the bull is let loose in the streets for a period of about 30 minutes or more. Wannabe bullfighters try to get the attention of the bull by flailing their arms, umbrellas or capes, in hopes that the bull chases after them.”
In this case, the handlers were apparently unable to get the bull under control again. It was cornered in a walled plot of land, where it was eventually run over.
Pedro Neves, spokesperson for animal rights party PAN, has made a formal complaint to the authorities.
“We’re against gratuitous violence,” he said. “What we want is to call attention to this so that there can be a change of paradigm.”
According to Público’s P3 online newspaper, the environmental division of GNR police, SEPNA, has already received over 300 complaints about the incident.
In a Facebook post, anti-bullfighting group Anti-Tourada said “another non-lethal method could have been used to subdue the animal”.
Another group, Unidos Contra as Touradas, says it is “incomprehensible” that an island that “prides itself on having three bullfights per day does not have a strategy to deal with these situations that does not involve violently running over the animals”.
It’s not a crime
Though it lamented the incident, animal rights group ANIMAL said the “atrocity is a moral crime, but not a legal one”.
Pedro Rosa, spokesperson for the Azores GNR police, confirmed the incident cannot be considered a crime.
“If it was the bull’s owner who made the decision to run it over, then it is not a crime,” he told the Resident.
He explained that bulls are not included in Portugal’s latest animal protection law, as they are not considered pets. In other words, bulls are still seen as ‘things’ in the eye of the law.
Nonetheless, the case is being investigated.