San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
animal abuse

Animal rights activists protest against Tico-style bullfights

Dozens of animal rights’ activists gathered Friday evening during the opening of the Zapote Festival, east of San José, to demonstrate against one of the celebration’s main events: Tico-style bullfights.

Demonstrators gathered in front of the bullring’s box offices chanting slogans and displaying banners with messages about the suffering bulls go through before, during and after the fights.

The protest’s main event, however, was a performance by a group of protesters simulating the marking of cattle using a hot iron.

The protest was organized by five groups under the umbrella name “Coordinated Group for Animal Liberation,” one of the members, Andrea Brizuela, said. She explained that the groups have joined together over the past four years to stage similar protests against bullfighting and against the National Horse Parade, rodeos and zoos.

The small but vocal group handed out pamphlets explaining what they said was abuse and mistreatment suffered by bulls from the moment they are taken from their farms, and before, during and after the bullfights.

“Bulls are raised in open fields and then suddenly they are crammed into a truck where they don’t receive any food or water. They defecate and urinate on each other, and travel exposed under the sun on the road for several hours,” Brizuela explained.

Then they are taken to dark barns under the bullring, where they get shocked with electric devices to make them aggressive, before being sent into the bullring “where hundreds of people scream at them, hit them, and then [the bulls] are tied up and returned to the barns and sometimes this results in their horns getting hurt and even broken,” she added.

The group will protest again in front of the Zapote’s bullring on Jan. 3 at 1:00 p.m., Brizuela said.

Protesters staged a performance depicting the suffering they say bulls are subjected to by farmers.

L. Arias/The Tico Times

The performance included a simulation showing how cattle is marked using a hot iron.

L. Arias/The Tico Times

Ropes used to take the bulls back into the barns cause severe damage to their extremities, this sign reads.

L. Arias/The Tico Times

“Torture is not art, tradition or culture” was one of the slogans displayed on banners and chanted by protesters.

L. Arias/The Tico Times

Activists display messages asking people to show compassion to all animals, not only domestic ones.

L. Arias/The Tico Times

“Torture disguised as tradition” reads a banner held by protesters in front of lines of people entering the bullring.

L. Arias/The Tico Times

Contact L. Arias at

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Really? Of all the things that could be started up in CR, the antiquated, cruel, unimaginative, off-putting tico-style bullfights is the absolutely worst choice. This is a huge turn off for tourists. Lots of folks gravitate to CR because of the relatively non-violent nature of the country, and now they take a huge step backwards? Bullfights belong no where but particularly not in CR. It can only fail and it makes the Costa Ricans look stupid. Boycott San Jose. I doubt that I have another trip to CR in me after learning about this stupidity.

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As an extranjero in this country, observing this annual event, I shake my head in bewilderment at this most non-sensical and cruel activity, that is supposed to reflect “Costa Rican culture”! A large number of overly testosteroned young men/boys, repeatedly taunting a confused and uninterested bull from multiple directions, is NOT a culture attribute, in my humble opinion! Bravo to these young protestors!

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Sean Davis

The only casualties in a Tico fiesta are wounded Ticos. The bulls may be disinterested, but they are in no way abused. The typical fiesta is a cultural heritage worth saving.
Also, the chick in the pink is rocking leather shoes, derp.

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