The dismal Spanish economy has taken a toll on bullfighting:
Bullfighting has seen its fair share of ups and downs since it emerged in its modern form in the 19th century, but some say it’s headed toward a crisis like no other. “There are fewer bullfights, fewer fans in the stands,” says Antonio Lorca, the El País newspaper’s bullfighting critic. “It hasn’t reached a critical level yet, but if nothing changes, it will.” The number of corridas and other spectacles featuring bulls fell by about 40 percent in five years to 1,997 in 2012, with the bleeding continuing this season. Funding is harder to come by, so countless lower-category bullrings, once echoing with the sound of applause, have gone silent.
Lorca also blames cultural factors for bullfighting’s decline:
“From a young age, kids in Spain are playing soccer and obsessively following their favorite players. Meanwhile, they identify less with bullfighting than ever before,” he says. Lorca says the bullfighting world has failed to adapt to the changes that have taken place in Spanish society. He blames globalization, Walt Disney films and cartoons that depict animals as human-like. “So new generations of Spaniards have learned to love animals, which isn’t a bad thing. But the result is that bullfighting becomes something bloody, a form of torture for animals,” he says, a hint of nostalgia in his voice.