It is common to hear the Portuguese tradition of bullfighting termed “bloodless” , as the spectators do not actually witness the death of the animal. This takes place behind the scenes, sometimes hours after the bull’s torment. There are also other ways that have been developed to entertain the more sanguinary and Chris Tarrant, after painting an idyllic picture of the beautiful Azores recently in the Mail on Sunday, spoiled it by describing such an event.

Miguel Moutinho, of ANIMAL, replied, part of which is reproduced here:

On behalf of ANIMAL, Portugal´s largest animal protection organisation, I am writing to you to firmly protest against the “Tarrant´s treasured islands” article written by Mr. Chris Tarrant and published in your paper.

When Mr. Tarrant writes so positively about the so-called bloodless bullfights in the Azores (which are part of Portugal), he is indeed promoting something which is far from being bloodless or free of cruelty and violence. The only creatures capable of witnessing these “rope bullfights” and finding them amusing, interesting and, moreover, free of cruelty are the very sadists who torment the animals – and those who take pleasure in watching it. The animals certainly do not find it an amusing and respectful practice … Indeed, what one can find in “rope bullfights” is another form of tormenting innocent animals who are restrained, assaulted, terrorised and many times maimed and / or killed to entertain an uncivilised group of uneducated people.

The Azores are actually one of the most active regions in Portugal when it comes to bullfights. Many different types of bullfights take place in the Azores islands and some of the most fierce bullfighting “aficionados” are gathered in the Terceira island, where violence against animals is passionately promoted. In the Azores, dozens and dozens of traditional Portuguese bullfights and of many illegal Spanish-type bullfights (with “Sortes de Varas”, in which bulls are severely injured with long spikes) take place every year. Also, so that you may have an idea of the situation of animals in these islands, we should say that last year a municipality in the Azores formed a partnership with the local police to hunt down and shoot to death all the stray dogs and cats in the island of Santa Cruz da Graciosa. They would have done it if we had not protested and generated a wave of opposition and outrage about this medieval plan.

A lot more could be said about the Azores and the promotion of animal cruelty there, but what I have written should be enough to show to you how untruthful is Mr. Tarrant´s description of what goes on in these islands.

This is why we ask you to please publish at least part of our message, so that your readers may know that those who live in Portugal and who work for animals here hold a completely different, and more realistic, perspective of the bullfighting activity in the Azores – which actually many times strongly disgusts tourists (including British tourists) who send us messages complaining about what they saw there, instead of pleasing them.

Miguel Moutinho

Executive Director and President of ANIMAL