Almaden De La Plata, Spain : Extremeno, an imposing black bull who weighs more than a ton, was set to fight to death next month in the neoclassical ring of the Spanish city of Valencia.

Instead, the coronavirus gave a 4-year-old Extremeno an unexpected lease on life. Valencia's fiesta was called off, along with the bulk of, along with the bulk of a Spanish bullfighting season that normally runs from March to October.

Although Spain ended its Covid-19 state of emergency last Sunday, bull breeders and matadors are continuing to lock horns with the left-wing Spanish government that they accuse of wanting to use the epidemic as an accelerator for bullfighting's permanent removal, in line with the wishes of animal rights activists.

''I find it deplorable that the fiesta of the Spanish people has become so politicized,'' said Aurora Algarra, who owns Extremedia and is among the few women to run a bull farm, which she took over after her father died in 2006.

''We now find ourselves under tremendous attack from Spain's government, but at least this crisis has united us in the face of adversity in a way that I had not seen before.''

Ms. Algarra has been preparing to send 70 bulls this year to fight in the rings of Spain and southern France. Instead, the coronavirus lockdown led her to send 30 of them to the slaughter house.

She is earning about 400 euros, or $450, for each animal's meat. That is only one-tenth of the cost of upkeep during the four years in which a bull roams her nearly 2,000 acres of land in the empty countryside of Andalusia, the southern and largest region of Spain.

For now, Ms. Algara is keeping Extremeno and her other bulls, while hoping bullfighting can restart soon. A breeder can earn thousands of dollars by providing six bulls for a traditional fight, or corrida, with the world-famous Pamplona festival paying nearly $17,000 for each animal, Ms. Algarra said.

The Pamplona festival, famed because its bulls also run the city's streets, was among the main events that were scrapped shortly after Spain declared the state of emergency in mid-march.

In recent years, bullfighting has not only been caught in strong political and economic crosswinds in Spain, it has also increasingly found itself denounced by activists who see it as publicly torturing animals.

During a corrida, the matador skillfully draws the bull toward him, at the risk of getting gored. At the end of the fight, the matador usually plunges his sword between the bull's shoulders; then the dead animal is dragged away from the ring.

In some rare instances, the public spares a bull's life by asking for it to be ''pardoned'' for its bravery.

The World Students Society thanks author Raphael Minder.


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