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Bloodless Bullfighting Draws Oles and Nays

October 17, 1988

CHICAGO (AP) _ With a tap of his hand, Mexican matador Manuel Espinosa symbolically killed an 842-pound bull, drawing a chorus of ″ole″ at a bloodless bullfight Sunday.

His sword had a Velcro tip and the bull’s horns had been clipped to eliminate any possibility of bloodshed from man or beast. But the bullfight still prompted efforts by city officials and animal rights activists to halt what they claim is an inhumane activity.

Outside the International Amphitheatre, about 30 members of Trans-species Unlimited, an animal rights group, marched with picket signs to protest the bullfight, the second in six weeks, as a mariachi band hired by the organizers entertained arriving spectators.

Kay Sievers, director of the group’s Chicago chapter, said ″bloodless bullfighting″ is banned in 43 states, and should be prohibited in Illinois. Bloodless bullfights are staged in parts of California, Texas and annually in Dodge City, Kan.

″It’s just another form of animal abuse and exploitation ... and we are trying to prevent it,″ she said. ″We have nothing against Latino culture. This is not a racial or a cultural issue, but an ethical issue.″

Homero Alvarado, the head of Meda, a Hispanic self-help organization that co-sponsored the exhibition, defended bullfighting as an important part of Hispanic culture dating back to the Middle Ages.

″Why don’t they stop the rodeo, or the circus, or the pigs fighting with a man at the State Fair in Springfield,″ which are crueler to animals, said Alvarado.

Alvarado said the organizers spent about $150,000 to stage the event, including legal fees and the cost of bringing in six professional matadors from Mexico and six California-bred bulls.

Any profits will be used to buy food and Christmas toys for poor Mexican families in Chicago, he said. The bulls were to be slaughtered to provide meat for Meda’s food bank program.

Alvarado said his group would like to sponsor six to eight mock bullfights a year in Chicago, and similar shows in Texas, New York and other states with large Hispanic populations.

But Peter F. Poholik, executive director of the city’s Commission on Animal Control and Care, said he was determined to make this the last bullfight in Chicago.

″In Korea they eat dogs, in Puerto Rico they fight cocks ... do we want to do this in Chicago?″ asked Poholik. ″There’s a long list of animal exploitation among different cultures ... and we don’t want to expand it.″

Poholik said he was pleased only about 200 people turned up at the 9,000- seat amphitheatre for the first of two bullfight shows Sunday.

The city’s first bloodless bullfights were held on Sept. 3 at an outdoor arena over Poholik’s objections and drew about 1,100 people.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Albert Green granted permission to stage the fights, ruling that the confrontations were no more cruel than rodeos, which the city allows, and that the city’s animal cruelty law is vague.

Poholik said city attorneys were drawing up a proposed city ordinance banning the bullfights.

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