A 24-year-old Australian identified only by the initials ‘J.C’ was treated for minor injuries sustained on the weekend at the Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona, Spain.
The eight-day San Fermin festival opened on Sunday with the first running of the bulls race. Each year the festival attracts hundreds of thousands of thrill-seekers from all across the globe. Organisers of the event were relieved that there were no gores or fatalities despite an exceptionally large crowd of participants due to the festival’s opening coinciding with a weekend this year.
Six large bulls and six steers were once again chased by dare-devils dressed in red and white through narrow, cobbled streets to a bull fighting ring where the animals are later killed in a traditional bullfight.
However, one bull sent alarm through participants after it became disorientated and officials used large sticks to usher it along into the ring. Despite the intervention of organisers and the attempts of the crowd to flea over wooden fences, this year’s run could not avoid four being injured in the ensuing panic.
Concerns about the event have been increasingly vocalised following a number of deaths and serious injuries in recent years, including a 25-year-old Australian in 2011 who had his right thigh pierced by the horn of one of the bulls. Bulls can weigh up to 625 kilograms, and fifteen people have been killed in the bull runs since records started in 1911. Last year 38 people were taken to hospital at the festival’s eight bull runs, including four men who were gored by bulls.
Is this festival a load o’ bull?
The event has recently met further criticism from animal rights groups such as PETA, who caused controversy after running a protest coinciding with the affair by lying naked and ‘bloodied’ in Pamplona’s streets in 2011.
The continued injuries to people participating in the run will no doubt re-spark the debate about the safety of the festival which runs until 14 July 2013.
This year also saw significant cuts due to the Spanish recession; Pamplona city hall has slashed the budget for the fiesta by 13.8 per cent to 2.1 million Euros, though this evidently did not dampen the spirits of the thrill-seekers in attendance.