Bulls are Enraged by the Color Red
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Bulls are enraged by the color red.

Don’t Believe That!

Bullfighting is a tradition in many countries, but most often associated with Spain. In Spanish-style bullfighting, a matador taunts the bull by waving a red cape. As the angry bull charges, the matador steps aside at the last moment.

This imagery is only a small part of the bullfight ritual, and has led to the widespread belief that the bull’s anger and violent charges are caused by the red color of the cape. Cattle, in fact, are color blind, so this conclusion would be impossible.

In the days leading up to a bullfight, the animal is kept in a small box and deprived of food, water and light. It is tortured and administered drugs. When the bull is finally released into the bright arena filled with crowd noise, it is weak and disoriented. Two men on horseback exhaust the bull further and stab the animal with pointed weapons.

At this point, bleeding to death, it is little match for, or danger to, the matador. The matador then finishes his work, killing the bull with a sword.

The bull’s actions during the ritual are not related to the color of the matador’s cape, but reflect the enormous pain it is experiencing and its attempts to run away or avoid further injury.

Protests against the barbaric nature of bullfighting go as far back as the late 19th century and it is now banned in many countries. If Spain, polls show a divided country, with around half supporting prohibition. A six-year ban on bullfighting in the Catalonia region of Spain was overturned by a court in 2016. But attendance has dwindled in recent years as Spaniards prefer to spend their entertainment dollars elsewhere.


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