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Jo Fitzsimons is a freelance travel writer who has visited over 60 countries. is the place where she shares destination details, travel itineraries, planning and booking tips and trip tales. Her aim: to help you plan your travel adventure on your terms and to your budget.

44 Responses

  1. Martina Schaar
    Martina Schaar at | | Reply

    You don´t realize one thing: all bovines need to die. Not that I want it that way, to prevent some misunderstandings. I just say it how it is. Cows get butchered after they gave all the milk and gave bith to the calves. Normal bulls get slaughtered after 3-4 years of life. Fighting bulls live a year or two longer, they are between 4-6 years of age when they get to the bullring. Now the most important thing: is bullfighting a needless cruelty? Yes. Is the slaughterhouse more humane to the bovines? Hell no, it is much worse. Have you ever been to a slaughterhouse? Cows get butchered without being stunned, or get killed in front of their fuzzy friends, one after another. Some get lifted by their feet and thrown into grinding machines alive. It is terrible, inhumane, extremely grim. The cows all know why they are there. They cry, moo, but can´t escape because they are all crammed in one place. If normal people saw what happens in slaughterhouses, they´d be pretty disturbed. Most likely for the rest of their lives. I am sure some couldn´t live with the images popping inside their head and would even kill themselves. Not joking here. It is THAT bad. Now compare it to the typical corrida. It has three stages. The bull first gets SERIOUSLY hurt towards the end of the second stage. Each stage lasts from 5 to 10 minutes. In the end, the Matador de Toros (aka “The Killer Of Bulls”, yes, that´s the correct name) has to slay the animal with just ONE blow between its shoulders. The bull is supposed to die instantly and not suffer. This happens in at least 95 percent of cases. And that´s it. The dead animal is then dragged away by a quadrilla, all the blood is washed away, and after the doors at the exit close, another gate opens, and the next bull is set to the ring. The bulls never get to see what happened to their friends. Now tell me, what is more inhuman, the socially accepted slaughterhouse, or the generally condemned corrida? I think it´s pretty easy. That makes the bullfighting pretty acceptable for me. Remember that those cows are meant to be slayed anyway. I think that it is better for them to have the last run and gore some matador before they die than to be thrown into a grinding machine alive.

  2. Billy Looi
    Billy Looi at | | Reply

    Jo, u written a wonderful and very detailed story about the cruelty that has happened. Dont bother about the people who commented about other countries cruelty, and comparing this with other livestocks. To me, all livestocks are life created by God, and we should defend for these voiceless animals.

    By writing this article doesnt mean that you only ban bull fighting, but the ignorance i saw other people commenting are so dumb, plain ridiculous! Writing an article and getting bombed down by stupid comments comparing various livestock is so sad to see. To me, just do what is right and dont bother about the negative comments.

    Support you Jo !


  3. Spaniard
    Spaniard at | | Reply

    The British as usual teaching morality to others when they carried out the worst massacres and holocausts In the world by killing entire nations in Australia and north America and slaving hundreds of thousands of black people around the word.
    Why don’t you speak about that too? All the racism and slavery that you have created in the world and has made miserable so many people yet you have the arrogance to judge other countries.
    The bull suffers but all the meat is consumed and they have a pleasant life living in huge fields unlike the calves whose meat you eat that live crammed and have a miserable existence. They suffer more and have much worse life yet you don’t mind going to tesco or asda after your meat with your benefits paycheck

  4. Nathan Friesen
    Nathan Friesen at | | Reply

    What an amazing article! One of the best and smartest I’ve seen from any travel blogger in a long time. Not only great advice on what to do in an area, but bring ethical questions to mind! I’ve shared this with a number of groups I’m involved with & hope they support you!

  5. Tom
    Tom at | | Reply

    This is a disgusting, vile, abhorrent, and barbaric spectacle.

    Who on earth would derive pleasure from watching a terrified animal tortured to death? The whole culture argument rings quite hollow with me. As listed above, there are many indefensible such activities around the world.

    Maybe it’s none of my business what Spain does or does not do, but I surely can speak with my money. Because we have been to Spain twice in the recent past and had another trip planned for next month (July 2014). This was to be a trip to Andalucia to look for a second home. But after doing more research I discovered the Spanish government subsidizes the “sport.” So really there’s no way I couldn’t participate in financing bullfighting. We canceled the trip and are seeking other locations for this home.

    That’s how anything gets changed – stop the money flow. If more tourists do not patronize bullfights, where the vast majority of the tourists leave sickened and disturbed after the first mutilation, and especially if they boycott the country altogether, bullfighting will become a thing of the past.

  6. Susan
    Susan at | | Reply

    Animal focused sport created for human entertainment and most often, financial gain are still in existent today. Even though it’s a bloody and violent spectacle it has still become an iconic tradition in Spain and in other places. Till now, it remains a curious attraction for me. But the ongoing disputes between moral activists makes this sport on crisis today.

  7. Jamie S.
    Jamie S. at | | Reply

    The experience must be overwhelming and exciting in many ways (kind of reminds me of the spectacle of gladiator fights in ancient Rome) — I just can’t help but wish there was a way to retain the drama, bravery, action and skill of the toreros without the brutal end for the bull..If you think about it, It’s very strange and poignant contradiction between the exceptionally high standards of animal husbandry amongst bull breeders and the brutal way so many of these animals end their life after several years on the farm..

  8. grahame
    grahame at | | Reply

    Hi Jo
    Your article brought back a lot of fond memories. I have been to Ronda a couple of times. I’ve even been inside the bullring there but not to watch the performance. I did however go to the bull fighting arena in Seville and another time one in Estapona. At first I was horrified then I began to accept this Spanish sport. Yes it’s pretty cruel and all that stuff but it’s the Spanish way. When in Rome you do as the Romans do. (Whatever that is supposed to mean). Yes I know the Spaniards like to play with their food in public. But remember that once the bull is killed and carted off, it’s given to the poor – or so they say. Ordinary folk don’t go to the abattoir to see how their food is slaughtered but they are more than happy to go to the supermarket and buy their bit of cow. What’s the real difference. If people can’t stomach watching a bullfight you shouldn’t go to one just like you won’t go to an abattoir to buy the meat you put in your stomach. We as Homo sapiens shouldn’t eat animal flesh let alone play with it.

  9. ThePaganSun
    ThePaganSun at | | Reply

    Wow…I have LOTS to say. OK, first, bullfights are NOT for “fun” or “shits and giggles!” The animal is EATEN and if you disapprove of it, how can you support fishing where the animal is hooked and flaps about weakly before it’s thrown ALIVE into some cooler to suffocate to death?! Or what about lobster?! If you’re not Spanish, you have NO right to weigh in and the majority of Spanish DO find bullfighting to be part of their culture! In fact, in Andalucía, the largest region and the most “Spanish” it is part of their identity! So quit speaking for them or trying to twist their words! If you eat a Big Mac or any other chain food, than you’re supporting an institution that kills THOUSANDS more livestock than any bullfights, many of which are given chemicals,steroids and almost never see the sun or ggrass! I’ve lived in And a Lucia for two years and have seen the fighting bull farms! And you know what?! They look strong, happy and grazing before they go off to fight! So whoever said they get “tortured” before a fight is a damned liar! And PETA is a notorious terrorist, hypocritical organization that defends animals but won’t hesitate to hurt their fellow man! In Spain, almost EVERY part of the animal is eaten even the tail, head and balls! Now compare that to kosher meats that don’t eat the bottom half of the animal! That’s FAR more wasteful! Like it or not, humans and animals are NOT the same! We can eat animals but nor each other, we can OWN animals but not other humans! And animals eat each other all the damn time sometimes even cruelly (orcas will “play” with their food usually otters and by “play” I mean tear it apart and throw it back and forth to each other!) So kindly get your heads out of your butts and realize that nature is NOT animals holdings hands in the forest! We have human trafficking, drugs, wars and genocides! In many countries human women and minoritiesare ffighting for basic human rights everyday! Yet you people want to focus on THIS?! If France, the Iberians and Latin America want to ban or promote bullfighting that’s THEIR business! Everyone else needs to get a damb life and try to change things for your fellow man FIRST who are often homeless or dying of hunger! Then think about the “innocent” bull (many times who if left in the wild will charge and gore you!) :/

  10. Chanel @ La Viajera Morena
    Chanel @ La Viajera Morena at | | Reply

    The Tajo Gorge is stunning!

    I went to a bullfight last summer during San Fermin and I was disgusted, I had to leave early, it was just not my type of party.

  11. Rosa
    Rosa at | | Reply

    Great piece Jo, really resonated with me. I know its impossible to steer a straight line through the morality, but being mindful is a great start. Well done!

  12. william hart
    william hart at | | Reply

    Fully agree with what you have written so eliquently. Cant understand how cruel humans can be sometimes.

  13. Gary Ward
    Gary Ward at | | Reply

    Hi Jo,

    Knowing you, you may want to re-think the Faroe Islands. Are aware that not only are alcoholic drinks horrendously expensive, they are also rationed by the Government?

    On the other subject, I have always been fascinated by the greater concern shown by Brits for animals rather than humans. The Brits have a ROYAL Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but only a NATIONAL Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Childen.


  14. Nic
    Nic at | | Reply

    I find the calculator on to be very usable, unlike many of them, and it doesn’t seem to be directing you as soon as possible to pay money to offset your CO2, unlike many websites. It also allows you to see.what differences answers to individual lifestyle answers make to your total, which shows where to direct attention. has a different calculator with more detail such as ferry travel but it is far more detailed than and less ‘fun’ as a result.

    Using the first one above, you can get a feel for which lifestyle and travel changes will do most to cut your carbon to your desired level. And once you know that the suggested level is 2 tonnes a year per person, you’ll see the challenge. It can seem daunting but, without wanting to use a probably over-used quote, it’s one of those cases where Gandhi’s “be the change you want to see in the world” really does apply.

    In terms of understanding the need for change and what people can do, I found the Friends of the Earth and Soil Association websites to be good, as well as the summary of the Stern Review report on climate change.

  15. Helen | Helen in Wonderlust
    Helen | Helen in Wonderlust at | | Reply

    Ingrained in the culture or not, bullfighting is cruel. It’s torture. It’s not a fair ‘fight’ and I don’t understand how anyone could get pleasure out of watching one.

    I’m not a big meat eater, but I am not against hunting for food. In fact, eating food that has been hunted, like deer, that runs free for its entire life, is a lot more humane that eating a cow or chicken that has been cooped up for life.

    But trophy hunting is a lot different to hunting for food. And hunting for lions in Africa, is just that trophy hunting. It’s not brave and it’s not for food.

    Torturing and killing for pleasure, whether you are the matador or a spectator is something I cannot get my head around!

    Great post Jo!

  16. Gary Ward
    Gary Ward at | | Reply

    Hi Jo,

    I did not say that I support Spaniards holding bullfights. I support the right of Spaniards to decide without external intervention. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on bullfighting in Spain and has every right to express that opinion. Only the Spanish have the right to decide what can and cannot be done in their country.


  17. Nic
    Nic at | | Reply

    I’ve had a similar travel-based revelation and many similar conclusions. Mine came from whale-watching off Vancouver Island and finding out how the breeding numbers of an entire sub-species can be so low due to the fertility impact of being at the top of the food chain and gradually accumulating more toxins derived from inorganic farming and other chemicals reaching the food chain. It made me really look into what being organic means and what I could do about it.

    For me it is partly about animal welfare, and in many ways that is the easier thing, and choosing organic food makes a big difference. But climate change requires more wide-ranging lifestyle change and is a far bigger and more urgent threat. It is a bigger threat to animal conservation as well as human welfare. And it is why I don’t mind the existence of zoos if they are properly engaged in conservation work, even if I can’t visit some if them (e.g., London Zoo) due to their layout.

    So now as a permanent traveller I cut down on beef and cow’s milk, buy more local products, look more for second-hand clothes and other products, stay mostly in people’s homes not in hotels and hostels (which by their nature demand more extra energy to build and run. And mainly, aided by the luxury of a 20 year travel plan, try to limit flights to where it is really necessary, eg across oceans. Doing all the other anti-carbon things are completely dwarfed by flight emissions from regular air travel.

    This year I’m counting my carbon and allowed myself a short flight from London-based Malaga but will get a ferry back to the UK. Ultimately it is all about whether this matters enough to the individual to spend the extra money involved. It is like buying insurance against a really bad future, maybe not even one we will witness but one we may otherwise contribute to. I still need to do better but moving from the lifestyle I had 3 years ago is a process. And offsetting the carbon isn’t enough either. It’s hard.

    On bullfighting, there is clear pride in it on some level all across Andalucia, based on the bars and restaurants will wall to wall paraphernalia. In Cadiz I saw toy bullrings in shop windows, so maybe the culture will persist for some time yet. I am also saddened and outraged, as I am with homophobia in Russia etc, but I also think we need to try to understand why people feel these ways if we are to do anything about it. A gut reaction and telling people they are morally wrong isn’t going to get to the place we want to be. But if I had a vote, of course I’d vote against cruelties like bullfighting. The posters all talk about ‘the brave bull’ as if it had a choice – how ridiculous. If you defend this you might as well defend human gladiator contests to the death. There can be no pride in libertarianism if it lets this kind of thing happen.

  18. Megan
    Megan at | | Reply

    To be blunt, bullfighting nauseates me. No, I don’t understand it. I don’t want to understand it, because there *is* no reason for it. “Entertainment” isn’t a valid reason for torturing an animal to death. I recently crossed a country off my to-visit list because I discovered something I consider morally unacceptable…the “whale drive” on the Faroe Islands. Ugh. That sparked an interesting discussion around the dinner table…is it reasonable to apply my moral judgement on another culture? Depends.

    PS. I eat meat. Happily. Yes, I try and make sure it’s free range, organic and all the rest. I *can* assure you I don’t stick my dinner chicken with pins before pulling up a chair to watch it stuck with spears for my amusement before I roast it.

  19. Gary Ward
    Gary Ward at | | Reply

    Hi Jo,

    I do not defend bullfighting and would probably never go to a bullfight.

    BUT, I will defend to the death the right of Spaniards to hold and enjoy bullfighting in their own country, where it is legal.

    As I will defend the right of the French to produce foie gras for me to eat, despite what the animal rights terrorists think.


    1. Red
      Red at | | Reply

      Do you also defend the rights of African countries that “legally” mutilate their Daughters genitalia, do you support Tanzania in still burning Women for heresy?, Do you also defend the rights of Iran to stone women to death for adultery? Just because something is legal, does not make it correct.
      I notice you mention “the rights” of the Spanish people should be allowed to do what they want within the law, how about the rights of the bull? Does it deserve to be tortured and killed for fun? Thank God not everyone thinks in this selfish manner, or they would still be throwing goats from the top of church towers and blowing darts into living bulls.
      There are millions of people eat foie gras, (I have very much enjoyed it myself in the past), and most do not realise the cruelty that is involved in producing this product. Anyone that IS aware, and continues to eat it are very cruel to perpetuate it. It is not US that are the terrorists it is people with attitudes like yours!

    2. Susan Penman
      Susan Penman at | | Reply

      I do not think that Spain have a right to torture animals, particularly when I, as a British taxpayer, am forced to contribute, via the Euopean Union, the subsidisation of the thousands of bull rearing farms, and also the rings themselves. We, the British public are forced to financially support bull fighting, and I really struggle to find adequate words in the English language to express how that makes me feel. ditto Foie gras. Anybody who eats it, knowing how it comes about, is not a human being.

  20. Paul Smith
    Paul Smith at | | Reply

    Another excellent article.
    Just to mention one teeny weeny thing – The Spectrum of Animal Richts para-“at odds with what my reality” ? x

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