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Man's death during Running of the Bulls draws even more attention to the controversial event

July 10, 2009 |  7:07 pm

Running of the Bulls The Running of the Bulls at Pamplona's annual San Fermin festival is a time-honored, if not exactly honorable, tradition.  Human fatalities at the festival are rare, but bull fatalities are all but a sure thing (the bulls used in the mad dash through the streets wind up facing matadors in bullfighting rings later the same day). 

Today's news that a young Spanish man was gored to death by a bull during the run may draw a bit more attention than is usually given the event.  The man, identified as Daniel Jimeno Romero, was gored in the neck and lung by a 1,130-pound bull named Capuchino.  From the Associated Press:

This run, the fourth of eight held at San Fermin, was by far the most perilous of this year's festival. The previous three runs were comparatively placid affairs, with no serious injuries.

The six bulls covering the half-mile course with six accompanying steers tend to mind their own business and keep running as long as they stay in a pack. A bull that gets separated is more likely to get frightened and aggressive, and that is what happened today.

Capuchino apparently became separated from the other bulls when he fell early in the run, losing time while the others continued running.  Once he righted himself and began running again, he reportedly began charging haphazardly back and forth while human runners tried their best to put wooden barriers between themselves and the bull.  (Romero tripped and was gored while trying to scramble under such a barrier.)

Romero's death was the first in almost 15 years for the Pamplona spectacle and the 15th since event organizers began keeping count in 1924.  Three other human runners were also gored during today's run, in addition to six runners who suffered the bumps-and-bruises-type injuries that seem to come with the territory. 

Animal advocates from 23 countries were also out in force at this year's San Fermin festival, many nude and holding signs reading "Bulls die bloody deaths in Pamplona."  A statement posted on an anti-bullfighting website maintained by PETA's U.K. branch takes issue with continuing events like the San Fermin festival in the name of tradition.  "People have always tried to use tradition to justify horrible things, such as child labour and slavery," it reads.  "But tradition doesn’t make something right. Bullfighting is a cruel blood sport that should have been relegated to the history books a long time ago."

Responding to the statement, Bonnie Erbe of U.S. News & World Report writes, "I know PETA's U.S. affiliate has engaged in some controversial methods of garnering publicity (pie-throwing and the like) for animal abuse. But in this case, PETA-UK is absolutely right."  Erbe is quick to point out, though, that she doesn't expect the Spanish government to intervene, because the San Fermin festival and other bullfighting events remain profitable.

Animal activists cry foul over "bloodless bullfighting" event in Artesia

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Participants run ahead of fighting bulls on the fourth bull run of the San Fermin festival.

Credit: A. Arrizurieta / AFP/Getty Images

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