Every year, in the city of Pamplona in northern Spain, there’s a massacre. Bewildered animals are forced to run at breakneck speed through the streets, towards an arena where they will be stabbed to death by a group of armed men. The Running of the Bulls at the San Fermin festival is a truly barbaric performance and one that has no place in any civilised country.
But something else happens every year, something that’s genuinely inspiring – people from Spain and all over the world come together to protest, peacefully and creatively, against the bloodshed. The colourful demonstration has been nicknamed the “Running of the Nudes“, as activists bare all to get across the point that you can create a spectacle without murdering animals.
This year, I’m very proud to be joining them. I became a campaigner for PETA a few months ago, and attending this protest feels like something of a rite of passage and a really important way to stand up for what I believe in. I find it so hard to understand how, in this day and age, in a modern country such as Spain, the medieval throwback of bullfighting can still happen – and that some people’s idea of “fun” is to hound terrified animals through the streets in a screaming mob.
Teaming up with Spanish animal rights group AnimaNaturalis, volunteers from France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and other countries will be lying in individual coffins in Pamplona’s main square next Friday – 48 of them to represent the 48 bulls who will be tormented and killed during the festival. I’m expecting it to be a sad occasion, as we contemplate the cruelty and injustice that these animals will endure, but also empowering, because we are making our voices heard and change is happening. A recent poll indicated that 76 per cent of Spaniards now oppose bullfighting. The tide is turning on this archaic blood sport, and I hope this event will be one of the final nails in the industry’s metaphorical coffin.
Stay tuned for pictures from the demonstration next week. For now, please stand with us, and add your voice to the calls of thousands of people, inside and outside Spain, who are writing to authorities with the message that “cruelty is not culture” and that bullfighting needs to be banned, not protected as a national pastime.