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Bullfight Brouhaha Boils Over

September 5, 1988

CHICAGO (AP) _ An official is promising to close a legal loophole that allowed the city’s first bullfights to take place over the weekend, but Hispanics argue that a ban will strip them of their culture and heritage.

″We’re going back to the drawing board on Tuesday,″ to figure out how to ban bullfights, said Peter Poholik, executive director of Chicago’s Commission on Animal Care and Control.

About 300 people viewed bloodless bullfights in a temporary arena set up as part of a Hispanic festival Saturday.

Four matadors confronted three 1,000-pound bulls, using the traditional capes. But instead of being killed, the animals had Velcro patches glued to their backs to grab onto the matadors’ Velcro-covered swords and darts.

″The cruelest thing they’re doing is teasing the animal,″ Poholik said. ″It’s not right but it’s not physically harming the animal. We’ve got enough of animal exploitation. We don’t need this,″ he said in a telephone interview Sunday.

Bullfighting is not permitted in the United States, but three states - Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas - have allowed the bloodless variety, Poholik said.

Chicago has an ordinance to prevent bullfights. But Cook County Circuit Judge Albert Green on Friday ordered the city to grant a permit to Jaass Productions Inc. to stage the exhibition because the bulls are not killed.

″I’m going to work with the mayor and city attorneys and get an amendment to an ordinance so we can ban bull baiting,″ the commissioner said. ″This bloodless bullfight is just another form of teasing and torment.″

But Rodolfo Mancilla, an aide to state Rep. Benjamin Martinez, who helped arrange the festival, said bullfighting is part of Hispanic culture.

″They’ve already taken away our language in schools,″ he said. ″Now they want to take away our folklore, tradition, heritage, culture. You just can’t keep doing that and have people stand for it.″

Poholik, who watched Saturday’s bullfight with an investigator from his staff and state officials, said the animals were not treated harshly.

″The promoters kept their word. There was no blood drawn,″ Poholik said. ″The animals were in excellent condition - well fed. There was a good corral area. You could tell they were well cared for.″

Many of the spectators were also concerned about the animals.

″Most of the people were rooting for the bulls,″ Poholik said. ″They cheered when the matadors got knocked down.″

The bulls’ ultimate destination is the butcher shop, said breeder Manuel Correla. The animals ″learn quickly″ and can only be used for one bullfight, he said. ″We use them for hamburger.″

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