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Home / Summer full of animal suffering during Spanish fiestas

Summer full of animal suffering during Spanish fiestas


During the summer months, most bull fiestas take place in Spain. For the used bulls, cows and calves, this means an exhausting summer full of stress and suffering. For example, a bull drowned in the sea during a bull festival in Dénia. In Morella, a bull collided with a wooden installation and then became unconscious. But there is also human suffering: for example, an innocent 74-year-old woman died after colliding with a bull that escaped from a bull festival. From CAS and AnimaNaturalis, we are doing plenty of research into these bull festivals this summer, often resulting in reports of abuse.

Spaanse fiestas

Bull fiesta in Teruel, summer of 2023 | © CAS/AnimaNaturalis

18,000 bull fiestas

Every year, 18,000 bull festivals take place in Spain, during which more than 30,000 bulls, cows and calves are maltreated. Breeders use the animals several times for such fiestas. When they are no longer considered suitable for the fiestas due to exhaustion, age or physical problems, they end up in the slaughterhouse. Valencia has the highest number of bull fiestas and also the greatest diversity. Estefania Pampin Zuidmeer, campaigner at CAS:

“Valencia is the state where I grew up. In the city where I lived, fortunately they didn’t have bull fiestas. But it is very strange for me to come across all kinds of towns and cities I know where they have bull fiestas. These are private festivals for the locals themselves: often the outside world knows little about them.”

From CAS International and AnimaNaturalis, we document these feasts; to have a picture of what happens and to report abuses when regulations are not followed. Every time we see exhausted bulls and cows in the scorching heat. Always there is a screaming and agitated crowd of people rushing the highly stressed animals. And regularly, all sorts of things go wrong.


Bull festival in Dénia, Spain | © CAS/AnimaNaturalis

Drowned bull in Dénia

On 10 July, a bull drowned during the Bous a la Mar bull festival in Dénia, Valencia. This is an extremely cruel bull festival where the participating public forces the bulls and/or cows to jump into the sea, where they are then brought back by boats to a platform near the quay. Cattle are not used to being in water or swimming, so it is a very stressful situation for them. And sometimes they even drown. According to the Spanish press, attempts were made to resuscitate the animal and the reasons for its death are not known. In 2014, another bull drowned after it collided with the edge of the quay when it fell into the water.

Two days before the bull drowned, we filmed this bull festival in Dénia. Together with AnimaNaturalis, we filed charges against the organisers for the death of the bull. Pampin Zuidmeer:

“We watch a lot of images of bull festivals, and describe them for our followers. Yet it is very difficult to put into words what such a bull fiesta is like: the fearful bull, his gaze, the heavy and charged atmosphere that prevails. The upturned attitude of the participants, radiating menace above all. That is why we are sharing as much of the footage we have taken here.”

Two accidents with fire bulls in Morella

In July, CAS and AnimaNaturalis were in Morella (Valencia) to capture a bull festival with fire bulls. Our colleagues on site were spotted at the very beginning of the event: their presence was announced with a megaphone. From then on, they were persistently harassed.

Two accidents took place that evening. During the first accident, a fire bull collided head-on with a wooden structure. It subsequently collapsed. Our colleagues were prevented from continuing filming. Bystanders kicked their backs and scolded them.

A few minutes later, the second accident took place: a fire bull pushed its burning horns against a tangle of ropes lying on the ground. The ropes got tangled around his head, putting him at risk of catching fire himself. Our colleagues were not allowed to film that either.


These are not isolated cases: such accidents are common during bull festivals. And that is why it is so important that organizations like CAS and AnimaNaturalis bring them into focus. We have filed charges because of censorship and the physical violence our colleagues were subjected to.

More accidents and even mistreatment

The summer of 2023 could count on a long series of accidents during the cruel fiestas. For example, a fire bull collided head-on with a wooden pole in Oropesa del Mar (Valencia) at full speed. After the collision, the bull was disoriented for a while. In Gata de Gorbos (Valencia), a cow collided with the iron bars of the fence behind which the crowd was standing. The animal fell down unconscious. Attempts were made to revive her, without success.

After this, she was taken back to the breeding farm where – according to the Spanish press – she was slaughtered. And in Teruel, a bull collapsed at the beginning of the fiesta. Yet the animal was forced to continue. During this event, CAS and AnimaNaturalis filmed how 12 exhausted bulls were chased by a crowd of people, while bystanders threw T-shirts and flags at the bulls and pulled their tails. We reported this fiesta.

Unfortunately, maltreatments take place too. In Estella (Navarre), a cow was abused by several men during a run. They pulled her tail and horns and pushed her to the ground. Then one of the men rolled over the cow. From CAS and AnimaNaturalis, we reported the mistreatment.


And then, of course, there were the well-known Running of the Bulls of Pamplona, during which a total of 48 bulls were chased through the streets for eight days and killed in the evening during the bullfight in the bullring. In fact, a total of 60 bulls were killed in the bullring as additional bullfights took place.

Human suffering

Bull festivals do not only cause animal suffering. Sometimes innocent civilians get injured and/or die. This summer, for example, a 74-year-old woman died in Almàssera (Valencia) after colliding with a bull in the street. The animal had escaped from a bull festival from another municipality.

Minors were also so seriously injured during fiestas that they had to go to Intensive Care. The United Nations asked Spain back in 2014 to keep minors away from the violence of bullfighting and fiestas. Unfortunately, Spain ignored this request, with dire consequences.

From CAS, we feel that bull festivals are a major violation of animal and human welfare. It regularly happens that bulls and cows escape during a bullfight, which entails huge safety risks for humans and animals. In addition, minors are exposed to danger. Furthermore, participants of bull festivals expose themselves to enormous risks – several people die every year after collisions with bulls. For CAS, these are important reasons – besides the immense animal suffering – to want to abolish bull festivals.

Campaign bull festivals

In recent years, CAS International and AnimaNaturalis have conducted an in-depth study of these 18,000 bull festivals in Spain. We mapped in which places which festivals take place and how many bulls and cows are used. We also mapped how many subsidies local and regional authorities give to these bull festivals. As a result of the research results, we are asking state authorities not to spend this money on bull festivals but on things that society needs. We will release our survey results in September. Keep an eye on our website for more information on cruel bull festivals!

Toro Ensogado | © CAS International/AnimaNaturalis

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