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In wake of Jallikattu debate, a look at other customs of animal cruelty

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:15 IST

As the controversy over Tamil Nadu's bull-taming sport of Jallikattu rages on, with the Supreme Court poised to hear appeals against the Central notification enabling it, Catch takes a look at a few other traditions which have raised the ire of animal rights groups over the years:

Spain's San Fermin festival

Photo: Wikipedia

The most notorious, and by far most famous, attraction of Spain's San Fermin festival is the encierro, or running of the bulls.

The annual affair, held in the city of Pamplona, involves large numbers of people running through the streets, chased by around six bulls, in areas cordoned off for the purpose.

Those who have messed with bulls have been known to get the horn, with the festival responsible for 15 documented human fatalities since 1910, apart from the 50-100 bull-runners injured annually. The run ends in the bullring, where the bulls are held till the afternoon bullfight, in which they are slaughtered.

The custom has been opposed by animal rights activists, with PETA having created the "running of the nudes", where naked protesters march through the same route to be used by bull-runners two days later.

The practice of pitting roosters against each other in a "cockpit" goes back millennia and has been observed in many parts of the world. These birds, specially bred to enhance their strength and aggression, typically have their combs, wattles and earlobes hacked off to reduce vulnerabilities.

Sharp metal objects are often tied to the roosters to increase the damage they can inflict in bouts that are often bet upon. Two roosters fight until one is killed or gravely hurt.

The "sport" has been curtailed by many governments on grounds of cruelty, with the UK notably banning it outright in 1835. However, cockfighting is still a rampant practice, observed even in New Delhi's RK Puram as recently as last year!

dog fight

Photo: Wikipedia

This blood sport offers another example of entertainment's darker side. Game dogs are conditioned, clipped tails and all, for fighting each other with wagers usually placed on the outcome.

A bout may end when one canine is incapacitate or killed. A losing dog lucky enough to find itself alive is often "customarily" killed by the owner. The tradition has roots worldwide, but many countries have viewed it from a humane lens and subsequently banned it. Other countries, such as Japan, still allow for it.

A dog-eat-dog world, organised by humans.


Photo: Wikipedia

A centuries-old practice, bear-baiting is as brutish an animal sport as any other. It involves tying a bear to a post and unleashing baiting dogs on it.

These dogs are continually substituted as they are maimed or killed by the bear. The bear's canines, no pun intended, may be removed and their sharp claws tamed to lessen its advantage. If they manage to tackle their opponent to the ground, the dogs are declared the winners.

The bear, win or lose, is left ravaged at the very least. Queen Elizabeth I was said to have enjoyed the practice. The British Empire, citing cruelty, nonetheless banned it in the 19th century.


Photo: Sniffingthepast.wordpress.com

This one is much the same as bear-baiting as dogs again are the principal antagonists. Packs of dogs are set upon a badger in quick succession for the viewing pleasure of an audience, resulting typically in the death of the badger and one or more dogs.

Despite being illegal, this tradition continues in Britain and Ireland till today.

First published: 12 January 2016, 6:17 IST