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Home / Protests against bull suffering during Hogueras festivities in Alicante

Protests against bull suffering during Hogueras festivities in Alicante


On 14 and 16 June, CAS International and AnimaNaturalis held two protests against bullfighting during the Hogueras festivities in the Spanish city of Alicante. On 14 June we held a protest against the return of ‘toro embolado’ and on 16 June against bullfighting during the festival ‘Las Hogueras de San Juan’.

Protest Alicante

Protest against toro embolado in Alicante | Photo: CAS/AnimaNaturalis

Protest against ‘toro embolado’

On 14 June, we demonstrated in front of the Alicante bullring against the reintroduction of the bullfighting spectacle ‘toro embolado’, scheduled for 15 June as part of Feria de Hogueras in the city, held in honour of Saint John. During ‘toro embolado’, fireballs are lit on the horns of a bull. This tradition has not occurred in the city of Alicante for more than a century. It causes severe suffering to the bulls, including disorientation, extreme stress and risk of heart failure. Coordinator of AnimaNaturalis in Alicante, Eliana Guerreño says:

“The local government’s decision to light fireballs on the horns of a bull during Feria de Hogueras is a sign of insensitivity to animal welfare. We want to stop subsidies and public funds for any activity where animals are mistreated. It is unacceptable that public funds are used to promote shows that cause pain and stress to animals.”

Toro embolado

Toro embolado in Medinaceli 2023 | Photo: CAS/AnimaNaturalis


A regional law basically prohibits minors from attending animal cruelty shows. Despite this, the advertising poster for the event stated that admission for children under 10 years old is free.

Protest against bullfighting

Additionally, on 16 June, we held a protest in front of Plaza de Toros, the bullring, in Alicante. Here, dozens of activists and citizens were present to make their voices heard against bullfighting during the Hogueras festivities in honour of Saint John.

The Hogueras festival is Alicante’s most traditional celebration and is known for filling the city with colour and joy. Director of CAS International, Maite van Gerwen said:

“A festival that is all about joy should obviously be no place at all for cruel entertainment with animals. We hope the Alicante authorities will also realise this and choose not to organise bullfights in the future.”

Protest in Alicante

Protest against bullfighting in Alicante | Photo: CAS/AnimaNaturalis


AnimaNaturalis, together with many other civil society organisations, has been collecting signatures for the citizens’ initiative #NoEsMiCultura since the beginning of this year. 500.000 signatures need to be collected in 9 months to lift the legal protection of bullfighting, by withdrawing Law 18/2013, which declares bullfighting Spain’s cultural heritage. This will restore regional and local governments’ own powers over culture and entertainment.

Green light for start of citizens’ initiative against cultural heritage status bullfighting

Majority against bullfighting

Data from the Spanish Culture Ministry show that the number of bullfights in bullrings has halved in 10 years. From 2684 in 2009 to 1425 in 2019. They also show that more than 50% of Spaniards support a ban or restriction on bullfighting. Almost 8 out of 10 Spaniards are against the use of animals in bullfighting.

A recent survey done by Ipsos I&O Public for CAS International shows the rejection of bullfighting in Spain, France and Portugal. The results show that 77% of respondents think bullfighting causes too much suffering to animals and 58% think it should be banned.

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Majority of people in European bullfighting countries against the harmful tradition