TIME Spain

Clashes as Spanish Town Breaks With Tradition and Bans Bull-Spearing at Festival

A bull, named "Pelado", stands beside horsemen during the Toro de la Pena, formerly known as Toro de la Vega festival, in Tordesillas
Sergio Perez—Reuters A bull named Pelado stands beside horsemen during the Toro de la Peña festival in Tordesillas, Spain, on Sept. 13, 2016

But angry locals say the tradition, dating back nearly seven centuries, was the "backbone" of their cultural identity

Scuffles broke out between animal-rights activists and supporters of an annual bull-running festival Tuesday, as, for the first time in its history, the Spanish town of Tordesillas banned spearing the animal to death.

At the end of the Toro de la Peña (Bull of the Rock), and in a break with a centuries-old bloody tradition, the 5-year-old bull was spared from being gored by lancers, the Guardian reports. Organizers had even changed the name of the festival from Toro de la Vega (Bull of the Meadow).

Though locals respected the ban, many took to the streets before the run, carrying a large banner reading “Tordesillas Won’t Give In.” The town’s mayor said the tradition, dating back nearly seven centuries, was the “backbone” of their cultural identity.

Read More: Tensions Are on the Rise in Spain Over Its Bloody Tradition of Bullfighting

In May, the regional government prohibited killing the bull at the climax of the event. Traditionally, men on foot and horses chase the bull through the city’s streets before lancing the animal to death as it reaches an open meadow.

This year, the 640 kg-bull named Pelado was still chased through the streets but allowed to enter the meadow in peace.

According to Spanish-language newspaper, El País, current rules stipulate that the bull will still be put to death. A member of Spain’s Animal Rights party told the newspaper, “We cannot confirm whether Pelado was put to death in the meadow after the celebration or tranquilized and transferred elsewhere, where he will be put to death 24 hours after the end of the festival.”

[Guardian, El País]

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