Written by Frank Cotolo
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Topics: Animals, Poison

Thursday, 8 July 2004

image for Taking the bulls by their poisonous horns in Pamplona
A runner in Pamplona only a few deadly inches away from a potentially poisonous horn.

PAMPLONA, Spain -- This Spanish town's famous bull-running event, featuring stampeding animals galloping through the streets in reckless abandon along with humans, has a new twist to it this year-poison horn tips.

Hundreds of people take part in the traditional early-morning dash from a corral to a bullring in Pamplona, and a dozen bulls take hot pursuit, ready to maul anything in their way. It has always been a dangerous adventure but a couple of event organizers thought it was becoming too tame.

"We decided to up the stakes," said Juan Calistrano, who is a Pamplona event-promoter. "And the poison tips on some of the bulls' horns was just the thing to spice things up."

Every other bull had its horns treated with the deadly poison Tikshna, which can kill a person quickly once it enters the bloodstream.

The event attracted fifty percent more people, according to Calistrano, when a press release ran in a hundred newspapers worldwide about the bull run including the deadly poison.

It's a nine-hundred-yard, two-minute race that a lot of common people from all over the globe came to Pamplona to run in.

Karen Moscori, 24, of Australia, and Frederic Ninka, 40, of France, said the poison angle made the event more exciting. "Being hit by bulls or struck their heads by falling on the hard cobblestone streets is dangerous enough," said Moscori, "but the possibility of being impaled and poisoned really got me packing my bags for Spain."

Ninka said, "It's good because it gives the bulls an edge. Some people think running with bulls is cruel to the animals and I guess it is. But if they can maul, trample and poison humans in the wake of it all, I guess that evens the Stevens."

The San Fermin Festival that includes the bulls-running event dates to the late 16th century but gained worldwide fame in Hemingway's 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises and later, in 1934 in Patrick Pallidino's Even The Bold Are Scared.

There are other dangerous public events held around the world that may now add more danger to them due to the Pamplona update.

In Japan, hundreds of people mount horses and attempt to ride down a steep hill and into and across a river. The death rate at this event is outstanding.

Iko Mirakawa, who is promoting the event this year, said, "It will be more dangerous and exciting this year than it ever was, as we will be blindfolding the riders and the horses and placing spikes across the shallow river at random."

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