PAMPLONA, Spain (AP) — Dozens of animal rights activists dressed as dinosaurs were chased by other activists through the streets of the Spanish city of Pamplona Tuesday to protest alleged animal cruelty at the world-famous bullfighting festival. San Fermin bulls.

In Tuesday’s protest, the dinosaurs were supposed to represent bullfighting and the crowd behind San Fermin revelers. The activists carried banners that read “Bullfighting is prehistoric.” They said the point was to show that racing could be joyful and cruelty-free.

It was the 18th annual protest spearheaded by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, and the Spanish NGO AnimalNaturalis. The demonstrations are usually held one day before the start of the festival with the traditional “chupinazo” roar of fireworks at noon in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento de Pamplona. The bullfights start on Thursday.

“Bullfights are the long ritualized execution of bulls and many tourists who come to bullfights don’t really realize that the same bulls they run down a couple of streets are later killed in the bullring. bulls that day,” Chelsea said. Monroe, PETA Senior Digital Campaigns Officer.

“They get stabbed over and over for 20 minutes until they die,” Monroe said. “We want tourists to know that their money is supporting this really cruel industry.”

The protests do little to dampen enthusiasm for San Fermin, which normally sees Pamplona’s population of 200,000 grow to around 1 million during the peak days of the nine-day festival.

The festival has been suspended for the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Authorities fear that the crowded activities at the festival could also lead to a significant spike in infections this year.

The highlight of the festival is the early morning “encierro,” or race, in which thousands of people run like crazy to avoid six bulls as they charge along a winding, cobblestone route to the city’s bullring. .

The rest of each day is for eating, drinking, dancing and cultural entertainment.

The six bulls are invariably killed in the bullfights each afternoon during the festival.

“The debate about the future of bullfighting in Spain has never been more alive and the authorities must take a clear stance,” Jana Uritz of AnimalNaturalis said in a statement. “We demand the necessary courage to say if they are in favor of animal torture or, on the contrary, are willing to prohibit such barbarities.”

Bullfighting remains immensely popular in Spain, although the movement against it has gained a lot of momentum in recent years. Bullfighting is prohibited only in the Canary Islands, although it is not practiced much, if at all, in some other regions such as Catalonia and the Balearic Islands which include Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza.

Animal rights groups cite figures from the Ministry of Culture, saying that 90% of Spaniards did not attend any festive event involving bullfighting in 2014-2015, the last year the issue was surveyed.

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