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I ran in Pamplona-but not with the bulls

By Lauren Bowey  Posted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
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It's always annoyed me that every July, there's an article or two in the newspapers describing how some drunken idiot got trampled or gored while running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Sure, it's a raw deal to get stomped or skewered on vacation, but the people at least have a choice.

The bulls, on the other hand, are prodded into running, panicked, through a gauntlet of crazy, screaming people who get a kick out of taking a swing at them as they go hurtling by. I'd feel like trampling someone too.

Many bulls are injured during the run when they fall on the pavement or crash into walls. And they all are tortured and killed with swords by matadors in the bullfighting ring later that evening. Most tourists have no idea that the bulls who are stampeded through the streets during the day are slaughtered in the ring at night.

I am not a streaker or a nudist or even much of an exhibitionist. But a few years ago, I decided to bare all for bulls.

PETA's Running of the Nudes took place a day or two before the start of the Running of the Bulls. Yes, that's really what it was called, and yes, clothing really was optional.

The point was to protest the way the bulls are treated-before bullfights, they are debilitated with laxatives and have petroleum jelly rubbed into their eyes to alter their ability to judge distance. In the ring, bulls are repeatedly stabbed with lances and knives until they die in a pool of their own blood. Sometimes the matadors chop off the bulls' tails and ears to keep as a prize (I would not want to get a whiff of that trophy case).

Since 2002, people have come together from all over the world to protest the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. What started as a few dozen naked people running wild through the streets grew into a flash mob of flesh. This year, PETA held mini-runs in Australia, France, Germany, the U.K., the U.S. and elsewhere.

When I ran in Spain, there was a nervous buzz in the air until people finally began taking off their clothing, piece by piece. We slathered on sunblock and used face paint and markers to write "Stop the bloody bullfight" and other messages in English and Spanish on our backs and stomachs.

Someone at the head of the crowd gave the word, and we set off through the streets, wearing nothing but strategically held signs, red scarves around our necks and bull-horn headbands. All eyes were on us. If you've ever dropped a tray of food in a cafeteria, multiply that by 100 and you'll be close to how exposed I felt. I have never seen so many camera phones pointed at me in my life, as locals and tourists came out of the woodwork. There are probably cringeworthy pictures of me in all my glory on the Internet somewhere. I haven't had the cojones to check.

But you don't have to go naked to make a difference for animals. If you're planning a trip to Spain, you can help bulls simply by boycotting bullfights and the Running of the Bulls. According to a Gallup poll conducted in October 2006, 72 percent of Spaniards show no interest in bullfights-up from 54 percent in the 1980s. It is tourists who are keeping this cruel tradition alive.

And if you do decide that you want to do more, I say, "Out with the old and in with the nude!" After all, a little sunburn is nothing compared to what the bulls go through.

Lauren Bowey is a contractor for PETA Europe. She can be reached c/o PETA, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.RunningOfTheNudes.com.

 

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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), with 6.5 million members and supporters, is the largest animal rights organization in the world. PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the (more...)
 

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