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Monday was the first day of the infamous San Fermin festival that takes place in Pamplona, Spain. The festival is more commonly known as the running of the bulls. This has been a tradition in Spain that dates back to 1591. Men would rush their cattle to get to the marketplace first. Every morning this week, people will gather to run with the bulls as they race down the street from pen to the bullring, where bullfights will happen for the rest of the week.

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Last Saturday a large group of animal activists lay on the ground beside the entrance of the Pamplona bullring wearing only their underwear and red paint. Some were also wearing bullhorns. The activists are associated with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and AnimaNaturalis. They held signs that said: “Pamplona’s streets are stained with bulls’ blood” in an attempt to put an end to this archaic tradition in Spain, arguing that this tradition constitutes abuse, causing unnecessary harm to the bulls. According to PETA, the bulls which are used in the festival are kept in small, dark enclosures overnight and are forced into the street using electric prods.

Photo Credit: Alvaro Barrientos

Photo Credit: Alvaro Barrientos

In an interview with The Independent, PETA’s director Mimi Bekhechi called the festival a “shameful, barbaric spectacle” and also said: “People who are gored during this display of human cruelty and idiocy have voluntarily chosen to participate, unlike the bulls, who have no choice in the matter and never make it out alive.”

Women, their bodies painted red, protest against bull runs beside the bull ring a few days ahead to beginning the famous San Fermin Fiestas,  in Pamplona northern Spain, Saturday, July 4, 2015. On July 6, the San Fermin festival will begin with the ''txupinazo'' , the opening ceremony with people participating in bull runs, music and dance, through the old street of the city. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

Photo Credit: Alvaro Barrientos

Many people are also injured during the run, and this event appeals mainly to thrill seekers who enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes from literally running with the bulls.

What Do You Think?

This is a time honoured tradition in Spain, it is something that unites the people and gives them something to look forward to. Does that justify the practice?

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Or should this tradition be laid to rest? Now that we know that animals are compassionate beings that can feel emotional and physical pain, should this be stopped? Is it still okay to be treating animals like this?

What do you think?

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