This was hard for me to put together and I can’t believe that in 2014 the majority of these still take place. The last 2 in particular totally shocked me.
Poor, poor creatures.
1. Quail Catapulting (Spain)
Every year the residents of Valencia, Spain collect up lots of quails, fire them out a cannon, blasting them high into the sky and then shoot them down again with shotguns. To make things worse, the quails they use are literally babies, with an average age of just 2-3 weeks. There are whole clubs dedicated to the sport of quail catapulting and hundreds of people flock to watch each match.
2. Swallowing Live Fish (Belgium)
In the small town of Geraardsbergen, Belgium there is an annual festival called Krakelingen. Dating back to 14th century, the festival has a particularly bizarre tradition in wich the mayor of the town and several other residents publicly swallow live fish. The fish are first submerged in a goblet of wine and then downed in one.
3. Horse Wrestling (Spain)
The citizens of Galicia like to show off their strength by wrestling (and then shaving) the poor wild horses of the region. The tradition stretches back 400 years and is known as ‘Rapa das Bestas’. Not surprisingly the tradition is strongly opposed by animal welfare groups who have tried have the practice banned, but sadly have so far been unsuccessful.
4. Ferret Stuffing (England)
Originating in Yorkshire and known locally as ‘ferret legging’ this bizarre ‘sport’ (if you can call it that) involves a man stuffing a hungry live ferret down his pants and keeping it trapped there for anything up to 5 hours. The UK’s Animal Welfare act of 2006 did its best to eradicate the practice, but unfortunately it still takes place.
5. Goose Decapitating (Spain)
The second on this list from Spain, another annual tradition and a really horrible one at that. Residents in the Basque town of Lekeitio celebrate their patron saint’s festival by stringing a goose up over the harbour and pulling on its neck until its head comes off. Fortunately the law was recently changed and the goose is now killed before it is decapitated (the poor creature used to be strung up while still alive), but even still it is pretty gruesome.
6. Hitting Cats With Sticks (Germany)
Another awful one, this time from Germany. This ‘sport’ known as tomcat poking, literally involved putting a cat in a sack, putting the sack in a box and hitting it with sticks until the cat screams. The sport was popular in the rural east, but (thank god) is not really practiced any more.
7. The Deadly Horse Race (Italy)
The Palio is a twice yearly horse race in Siena, Italy and is known as the deadliest horse race in history. The race consists of a 90 second sprint around a tiny track, which is jam-packed with cheering tourists. There have been 49 horses killed in the race since 1970, which doing the maths, works out at a horse killed for every two and a half minutes of racing. The race still goes on to this day, but since 2011 the Italian government have attempted to distance themselves from it by refusing to include it on their list of official cultural heritage events.
8. Throwing A Goat Off A Building (Spain)
It’s back to Spain for number 8 on this list and in fact we will be staying in Spain for the final 3. During the San Vicente de Martir festival, the villagers of Manganeses de la Polvorosa would gather to throw a goat out of a tower. It is disputed when this tradition began, with locals claiming it dates back 200 years, but others saying it began as recently as 1978, but the good news is it was banned by the Spanish court in 2002 and the locals now content themselves with throwing a stuffed toy from the tower instead.
Be warned, while the 8 above are shocking enough, the next two (which tragically still take place) are simply vile.
9. Donkey Stoning (Spain)
Tragically, unlike goat throwing, this one is very much still alive in Spain. Every year the community of Villanueva de la Vera in Spain drag a donkey through the streets, jeering at it, slapping it, hitting it with rocks and even exploding firecrackers between its legs. When it falls over they drag it up and start again until the poor beast dies in horrible pain. Absolutely sick.
10. Setting A Bull’s Face On Fire (Spain)
I can’t even bring myself to post an image for this one as it’s so disgusting. If you must see it, there is horrendous footage available on youtube, but be warned it is one of the most horrible things I have seen. We all know about the Spanish tradition of bull fighting, but in the tiny Spanish village of Medinaceli hold an event called the Toro Jubilo in which they lather a bull up with tar and set fire to its face. Unbelievable that this can happen in 2014 and god only knows the suffering the poor animal must have endured.
The fact that 7 out of 10 of these practices still take place shocked me and I can’t believe that as a civilised and educated society we can allow such cruelty to endure. Please share this to help spread awareness.