A 22-YEAR-OLD Daylesford woman was among dozens of activists who staged a protest before the annual San Fermin Festival in Spain at the weekend.
Surrounded by signs asking for an end to bullfighting, the group of 54 protesters affiliated with PETA (Protection for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and the Spanish animal protection group AnimaNaturalis staged a "bloody crime scene" at the Plaza Consistorial in Pamplona.
Cordoned off with yellow tape, the activists, with swords sticking out of their backs, lay inside outlines of bulls to remind passersby that bulls are living creatures made up of flesh, blood and bones and feel pain and fear just like humans do.
The activists travelled from across the globe to stage the protest just before the annual event, which draws almost a million tourists to the city for the eight-day festival each year, injecting a huge contribution to the local economy.
Jennifer Bossinger flew from Melbourne to attend the protest.
"I have always hated the mistreatment of animals," she said. "I joined with animal activists from around the world to highlight the horrific abuse of bulls during the festival, and to encourage tourists to stay away from the San Fermin Festival, especially from its bull runs and bullfights."
The annual event sees six bulls and a number of steers chased by adrenaline-fuelled tourists down the narrow streets of the city to the bullring each morning.
There are often many injuries along the way for both the tourists and the bulls. This year, several people were gored on the kilometre-long run through the city's streets on the first day of the festival.
The bulls are chased to the bullring, where they remain until evening, when professional bullfighters taunt and stab a number of the bulls with swords and other weapons until they become weakened by exhaustion and blood loss.
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Then, the matador stabs the animals with the intention to kill them. But the suffering does not end there. Many do not die straight away, though they are often paralysed if their spines are slashed, with their ears or tails later cut off as trophies.
"Most bulls who are forced to take part in the Running of the Bulls will be tortured and suffer a bloody, prolonged death in the bullring a few hours later.
Stabbing bulls to death in the name of entertainment or tradition is completely wrong, and that's why I've decided to take part in this protest.Jennifer Bossinger
"It's 2019, and no living being should be slowly stabbed to death for the sick satisfaction of a rowdy mob."
Bullfighting is a cultural tradition in Spain but it is contentious, with a large percentage of Spaniards turning away from the annual events. Dozens of Spanish towns and cities have ceased bullfighting activities but several bull running events continue in the country from April through to September each year.
"I and the rest of the world are absolutely disgusted that Pamplona continues to smear its own name with this out-of-touch, blood-soaked display straight out of the Dark Ages," Ms Bossinger said.
The San Fermin Festival runs from July 6 to July 14 each year.
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