Spain’s traditional running of the bulls has claimed the lives of three spectators who were maimed during festivals in the last two weeks in the Valencia region.
A 56-year-old man who was tossed into the air by a bull as he took cover behind a block in the middle of a street died Tuesday in a Valencia hospital after suffering brain damage. He was injured nine days earlier at a festival south of Valencia in the city of Picassent.
A 50-year-old man who was gored by a bull north of Valencia in the city of Meliana died after suffering a pierced lung. The tradition also claimed a 64-year-old French tourist injured by a bull in Pedreguer.
Spain hosts nearly 10,000 bull-running events annually, with the San Fermin bull run in Pamplona the best known. That festival resulted in 35 injuries earlier this month.
At least 20 people have died in bull-running events in the past eight years, with 478 people injured across Spain this year, according to Reuters.
While Meliana’s mayor said bull-running participants knowingly accepted the risks, animal rights activists repeated their calls to abolish the festivals. The Animalist Party Against Mistreatment of Animals criticized organizers of the Valencia festivals following the deaths.
Valencia’s bous al carrer, or bull-running, has been a vital tourism draw for the regional economy. A 2019 study attributed more than 3,000 jobs and $300 million per year to the festivals before they were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.