Fight Over Bullfighting

A CGI Dinosaur Is the Star in a French Anti-Bullfighting Campaign

The campaign comes just a few days before the second round of the French presidential election.

Meaghan Beatley

Meaghan Beatley

Image: YouTube

FLAC may look like duck onomatopoeia, but in France, the acronym stands for the Federation for the Fight to Abolish Bullfighting (Fédération des Luttes pour l'Abolition des Corridas). That's right: bullfighting—the blood sport that involves baiting and killing a bull in an arena—is not just conscripted to Spain and its former colonies, but is alive and well in some sectors of the baguette-wielding nation. And FLAC's not happy about it.

Last Friday, it released a video featuring a dinosaur traipsing about a bullfighting ring and charging into a matador's cape. The objective—as indicated by the video's title, "Do you think this practice belongs to another age? #StopBullfighting"—is to point out what FLAC considers to be the archaic nature of the practice. At the time this article was written, the video had garnered approximately 360,000 views in its English version, 91,000 in its French version and 65,000 in its Spanish version.

"Bullfighting is a spectacle that's cruel to animals and degrading to all humanity, led by irresponsible individuals who are insensitive to animals' suffering or, worse, take joy in that suffering," a spokesperson from the Association for Animal Rights (Association Droits des Animaux) told Motherboard.

FLAC did not respond to a request for comment.

The video invites viewers to sign a petition demanding bullfighting be definitively abolished in France. The letter is addressed to the future president of the republic and admonishes the fact that "most candidates to the presidential election refuse to take a stance opposing bullfighting in France." True: frontrunners Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, who will face off on May 7, have both stated they would not ban the sport. Even Jean Lassalle—former presidential candidate whose TV spots often featured him whispering sweet nothings in bovine ears and who declared that "France is like a cow about to give birth," in reference to challenging position the next head of state will face, we assume—didn't have anything to say about the sport.

It's unclear where bullfighting originally came from. Some point to the Romans, others to the Moorish conquests of Southern Europe. The Association for Animal Rights points its finger squarely at Spain, where the practice continues to be legal despite growing criticism and Catalan attempts to ban the sport "It was imported to France from Spain and illegally practiced during the 19th century (the Grammont Law of 1851 forbid animal cruelty), before it was legalized in 1951," the association spokesperson wrote in an email.

In what was considered a major victory for animal rights groups, bullfighting was taken off France's UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list in 2015. However, the symbolic rejection of the sport wasn't reciprocated legally: although animal cruelty is punishable by two years of prison and a €30,000 ($32,764.50) fine according to France's penal code, Article 521-1 makes an exception for bullfighting "where an uninterrupted local tradition can be shown." Approximately 10 percent of France near the Spanish border can claim such a tradition.

And so FLAC continues to fight the good fight, often via marathons and countryside bike rides.