If you like running, don’t do it in Pamplona. Well, you can, but don’t do it in July. Why? Because if you do, you will not be running on cobbles or tarmac, but on the blood of fallen animals.

Every year in July, a festival is celebrated in Pamplona, Spain. Every year in June, a festival is celebrated in Yulin, China. What do these two festivals have in common? They are both based on the ritualised abuse and killing animals in front of crowds of people.

In Yulin the victims are dogs, which will end up skinned alive and eaten by tourists. In Pamplona the victims are bulls, which will suffer a similar fate. Would you be uncomfortable traveling to Yulin knowing that what takes place is a massacre of dogs? Is it therefore reasonable to assume that you would be similarly uncomfortable if you knew what happened in Pamplona was not a harmless spectacle dressed up in tradition, but the public slaughtering of bulls?

If you didn’t know that this is what really takes place, I wouldn’t be surprised. The true nature and horror of the event is not what is presented on the glossy adverts promoting the festival.

The San Fermín festival in Pamplona, commonly known in the UK as the Running of the Bulls, is a ritualised attack on dozens of bulls. Every year thousands of tourists flock to the city to take part and watch the spectacle. During an entire week dozens of bulls will be abused and killed using a long sequence of gruesome methods. Here they are, in reverse order:

  1. The ears or tails of the bull are cut to be given as trophies to his killers - often before the bull has died
  2. Daggers are stabbed into the back of the bull’s neck to attempt to paralyse and eventually kill him
  3. A long sword is stabbed through the bull’s body several times until it collapses to the ground
  4. Several harpoons are stabbed into the bull to make him bleed and run because of the pain
  5. A long lance is used by a rider on a blindfolded horse to stab the back of the bull, leading him to bleed profusely, debilitating him
  6. Several people shout and wave capes to confuse the bull and make him run from one end of the bullring to the other
  7. The bull is kept alone in a dark barren cell without food or water until he is beaten towards a narrow tunnel ending in the bullring where thousands of people will be shouting at him
  8. The bull is forced to run for 849 metres on slippery cobbled streets while being abused by hundreds of people hitting him, pulling his tail and forcing him to run faster in panic
  9. The bull is transported in a dark, hot and moving vehicle that he has never experienced before
  10. After a few years living in a field with very little contact with humans, the bull is forcibly taken from its herd to begin a calvary that will eventually end his life

If that’s not shocking enough, maybe this will bring it home: the organisers recruit tourists from Australia, USA, Britain and other “civilised” countries to participate in Number 8 above, by encouraging them to get drunk and ‘take part’ in the “running” of the bulls. They then come home, and despite participating in activities that could put them in prison if they had done them in their own country, they return to their lives as if nothing happened, not knowing the reality of the so called spectacle.