Setting a Bull on Fire Isn’t a Tradition, It’s Torture


The Spanish town of Medinaceli set light to a live bull this weekend and then goaded it before it was slaughtered. This they call tradition, or the annual Toro de Jubilo celebration, where they create a “bull of fire.” For this event they now also want UNESCO protection.

Reports say nearly 1,500 people, double the population of the small town which lies in the province of Soria, north east of Madrid, gathered on Saturday for the event that transformed the town’s square into a hellish bull-fighting ring.

In preparation for the event, the three-year old bull had been transported to the town only a few hours earlier. Once it had arrived, it was pulled to the ground so that some 30 men could strap a wood and steel frame to its horns.

Reports The Express:

Attached to this grotesque headdress were torches soaked in pitch – a mixture of turpentine and sulphur. The men then smothered the bull’s face and neck in mud to stop its fur catching fire before igniting the torches.

When they were aflame the bull was cut free from the post and began to run around the ring, furiously shaking its head as redhot droplets fell from the torches on to its face.

This “event” continues until the fire extinguishes itself. There are reports that in past years, spectators would even try throwing firecrackers at the bull’s head in order to relight the fire and make the festival last longer. In addition, fireworks around the area are often released, causing the bull further distress. After this, the bull is led away and slaughtered.

Below is a video of the 2009 event. One can clearly see the bull being goaded, motes of fire dropping from the metal frame onto its feet, and the bull’s hide steaming and at one point being licked by a trail of fire. The distress the bull feels is palatable as it dashes its head against the ground and attempts to throw off the fire. Viewer discretion is advised:

Pictures of the 2010 event can also be seen here.

This barbaric ritual is justified by the Spanish town as being a matter of “tradition.” They claim it is their cultural heritage. They also say that, despite apparent evidence to the contrary, the bull does not suffer at all.

The festival is thought to date back some 400 years. It was banned in 1962, but that ban was lifted in 1977 and since then the festival has been given special cultural status by authorities in Castile and Leon, while Medinaceli itself is attempting to secure for the festival an Intangible Cultural Heritage status from UNESCO.

Campaigners scored a major victory in 2010 when politicians moved to ban bullfighting in the northeatern Catalonia region.

However, festivals like Toro de Jubilo held in smaller provinces are not covered under this rule change and, as such, the “fire bull season” continues.

Join Care2 in calling for an end to this and other barbaric fire bull events; sign the petition!


Related Reading:

It’s Time to End Bullfighting

Ecuador Votes on Bullfighting Ban

Barcelona Frees The Bulls After 600 Years!

Image credit: Thinkstock.


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin5 years ago


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin5 years ago

Disgusting. Evil. Barbarian. Immediately cut off all EU-funds for these cave people! Have them start a new tradition where they do this to 100 of their evil children every year and see how they enjoy it. It wouldn't har the kids at all!

Baul Natalia
Natalia Baul5 years ago

is it culture?But is it cultural? Cruel and sadistic

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright5 years ago

This is NOT tradition, it is out and out abuse, torture and murder under the guise of "tradition". This totally disgusts and sickens me.

I cannot bring myself to watch the video knowing the immense and unimaginable suffering this poor creature had to endure.

I am typing this through a river of tears for that bull. This is yet another I.F.H.P. Day. Chalk up another one for heartless and cruel humans.

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Gladly signed, and I don't sign every petition that comes down the pike, either! This is barbaric animal abuse. There can't be any cultural reasons for such abuse and cruelty. Even the Mayans, a very barbaric people in many ways, at least sacrificed because of religious reasons and fear of the "wrath of God", but this????

Carrie Anne Brown

signed, thanks for sharing :)

christine robertson

This is not tradition its just a bunch of blokes getting together to torture an animal and getting a laugh out of it. How about tying the headdress to one of them and doing the same thing and see how much fun it is for anyone. And what on earth is it suppose to prove? They don't even have the guts to get into the ring with the bull but stand safely behind a fence and torment it. I suppose they also have the tradition of getting drunk on a Saturday night with the boys then go home and flog and rape the wife and the beat the kids to because it is culturally the thing that has been done for centuries. Grow up and act like human being and not some mentally demented idiots.

JACQUI GLYDE5 years ago


ELENA NOVO5 years ago

Torture is not culture!!!!this is the worst form of animal cruelty as per entertainment,exploitation for mans sick appetite for blood,its sadistic,arhaic...and needs t o be stopped!These are the virtues you want to teach future generations,to torment innocent animals??????children are also a witness to the horrific and violent scene of a panic-stricken bull with fire blazing from its horns being stuck with knives and tortured for hours on end.
it makes me sick...instead of going forward ,we are becoming more & more primitive...
BY Thomas de Quincey:The Bull That Changed a Matador's Life

Rachel H.
Rachel H5 years ago

I am sickened by this act and I hope that protests and petitions will make the people in high places put a stop to this and I must say that a couple of remarks on the comments section I deem heartless.