The Fiesta of the Toro Jubilo takes places in Medinaceli, Soria, Spain every November. A bull has fire attached to its head and is released in the square to be taunted and abused by the villagers. It suffers terror and physical pain.
10th January 1999
Blazing Cruelty - Villagers Laugh As Bull Endures Flame Torture In Firework Fiesta
by John Ingham
A panic-stricken bull tosses his head in terror as jeering men turn him into a sickening live firework display.
Blood pours from his nostrils and the acrid smell of his burning horns fills the air. He rushes about bellowing in agony for 30 horror-filled minutes.
All he wants is a quick end to his ordeal but the onlookers, three-hundred residents of the tiny cliff top village of Medinaceli in Northern Spain, show no sympathy on this bitterly cold night. They just stand laughing at the Jubilation Bull. They add to the creature's abject fear by letting off hundreds of deafening firecrackers.
Film of this cruel episode will be presented this week to the European Parliament in Strasbourg in a bid to get the "sport" outlawed at Medinaceli and 2000 other village fiestas across Spain. The shocking images were captured by veteran campaigner Vicki Moore and husband Tony, back on the front line against animal cruelty for the first time since she was nearly killed while filming the running of the bulls in Coria, Spain, more than three years ago.
Then, a rampant bull gored her eleven times, smashed eight of her ribs, pierced a lung and scraped her back bone. Vicki, 40, spent a month in a coma and subsequently lost a kidney in a series of operations which only finished last summer. But just before Christmas, she put her nightmares behind her once more to return to her campaign, The Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe.
She confessed that seeing the Medinaceli bull charging toward her brought back terrible memories.
"But I also felt that I had been blessed to have enough stamina to be back in the front line," she said. "The animal was out of its mind, with sheets of flame engulfing its head. It was like watching someone being burned at the stake. You could smell the burning flesh and hear the animal screaming."
The festival was considered so cruel that even General Franco banned it, but it was revived after his death.
Balls of tightly packed hemp, soaked in resin and wax, are tied to the bull's horns and when they are set on fire with torches, flames shoot several feet into the air. The film will be shown to the European Parliament's Intergroup on Welfare and Conservation of Animals, chaired by London West's Labour MEP Michael Elliott.
Vicki hopes that the Parliament will pressurise the Spanish authorities into banning the fire-bull fiestas.
But for this bull any action will be too late. He was killed and eaten in a pre-Christmas, village feast.
Vicki dismisses criticism that she is interfering in Spain's ancient culture, claiming that many fiestas are modern inventions by farmers who can sell a bull to a festival for up to eight times the price it would fetch for beef.
©1999 International Express