The bull-run took place in Fornalutx last week. But how old is the tradition? | Miquel Angel Cañellas

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Concepción Ferrer, who is the assistant "Defensor del Pueblo" (Ombudsman), had asked Fornalutx town hall to supply as a matter of urgency information regarding the age of the "correbou" bull-run. This tradition during the Fornalutx fiestas is practised under Balearic law as it is said to be treated as an "exemption" to a prohibition on the use of animals because of its history.

The request was in fact dated 31 August, and the bull-run was held two days later. It was made following a complaint to the Ombudsman by the national association for the protection and welfare of animals (ANPBA). The association contacted the Ombudsman as there was silence on behalf of the town hall when the association asked it for information pertaining to the bull-run in January and April this year. It was wanting to have access to documentation that shows that the bull-run had been happening in an uninterrupted way for at least 100 years when the Balearic animal protection law came into effect in 1992.

The association suspects that the lack of response from the town hall is because it cannot demonstrate that the bull-run has taken place year after year since 1892. It suggests, therefore, that it has been illegal since 1992 when the law came into effect.

The 100-year-rule permitted fiesta events involving animals to continue if it was clear that they were more than one hundred years old. It is this rule which Santa Margalida town hall eventually fell foul of (fifteen years after the law was enacted) when it was threatened with legal action for having allowed the Can Picafort ducks' swim in August to continue: there was only evidence of the tradition's existence dating back to the 1930s.

ANPBA is also pointing out that the Balearic law established that there was an "essential requirement" to ensure that there was "no torture of the animal", which it argues is the case with the bull-run.