377. Portuguese Bullfighting in Toronto’s Downsview Park


Ole Toiro Inc., Arthur, Ont. Copyright © 2009 Ruth Lor Malloy.

Ole Toiro Inc., Arthur, Ont. Copyright © 2009 Ruth Lor Malloy.

Sarah Black writes to us:   I am just wondering if you can pass on any information as to why bullfighting is being allowed for this so-called multicultural celebration? This is an appalling “sport” and is incredibly cruel.  I am ashamed that in this day and age, this torturous activity is still allowed to continue.  I, for one, will be boycotting the entire festival and the park, and notifying everyone I know of this horrendous act.

  I do apologize if you are not the actual organizer but you are the only contact I could find.  Shame on the organizers for allowing this. 

 Our answer: we are not the organizer of this event,  and are not promoting it in our web-site because it costs $40-$60. This price is outside our guidelines for free or nearly-free events.  This being said,  Portuguese bullfighting in Ontario has been going on for at least five years among people from the Azores. As far as I know, no bulls have been hurt. They are teased with capes into chasing the humans. No knives are used. No blood is shed. It’s more teasing than fighting.  The only sentient beings who get possibly hurt have been human.

If you object to this sport, you might want to send letters to the editor of newspapers like The Toronto Star. You might want to send a protest to Toronto City Council and the Ontario government who have obviously approved the event, and to animal rights’ groups. Ruth.

 Sarah Black responds: Thank you so much for forwarding the correct information. Seeing something like that gets the blood boiling and it is difficult to find the right contact. I don’t mind if you publish my first name and the email address. I will definitely send an email – even if it is bloodless, I definitely do not think it should still be allowed to continue!

 I hope our readers will send us their opinions on this controversial subject too. For their reference, the event in question is on June 15 and 16 at: http://www.soletoiros.ca/Gallery/ViewMedia/tabid/62/SelectedModuleid/391/ItemID/283/rtabid/40/Default.aspx

Ole Toiro Inc., Arthur, Ont.  2009. Copyright ©2009  Ruth Lor Malloy.

Ole Toiro Inc., Arthur, Ont. 2009. Copyright ©2009 Ruth Lor Malloy.



  1. In response to Sarah, I once too thought as you did and before making any public judgements as I would normally do, I actually attended one of these events about 6 years ago. For the record these types of events have been happening in Ontario for over 20 years. They refer to it as Humane Bloodless Portuguese Bullfighting.

    I had been in Spain a year prior and witnessed a bullfight there. When I heard that these events were happening here, I couldn’t believe it and attended one to actually see if it was the same type of event as I had witnessed in Spain. To my surprise it was nothing of the sort. The “knifing” or “spearing” of the bull that happens in Europe, did not happen here. Obviously, knowing the country we live in, I just couldn’t believe that it would be allowed to kill a bull in an arena. And sure enough, there is no killing, or stabbing or blood for that matter.

    It is a tasteful and very exciting show, with lots of music and costumes and free running bulls within a closed off arena.

  2. I would like to educate the uninformed people regarding “BULLFIGHTING”. The Portugese culture in Ontario have had this kind of event since 1980. We “BULL DODGE”which is no different then the western culture dodging and teasing of dogs and cats. The bulls run free in its normal farm life; dogs and cats are treated cruelly because humans try to make them into humans, being locked in a house or apartment, taking them for walks, and getting dogs to chase humans. (Some may call it playing but in fact it’s more cruel.) … Portuguese bull dodging is not like the old school of Spanish bull fighting.

  3. Just because something has been happening for 20yrs doesn’t make it right. Catholic church has been molesting children for centuries, doesn’t mean we should allow it to continue. Why cause another being harm for entertainment? Only sick humans would find delight in tormenting another animal/human regardless if blood is shed or not, dumb.

  4. Sorry regardless of what you want to call this…dodging? Bulls are still being tormented and teased and to me this is horrifically cruel

  5. I’m appalled by this animal abuse masked as “multiculturalism.” Let’s be honest about what multiculturalism is not – it is not a defense of ethnic narcissism – whereby some groups appear to hold the opinion that they possess exclusive identities that are superior to other cultures.

    Multiculturalism is NOT an apology for excusing cruel practices to animals. Canadians have universally shown that we do not tolerate practices brought to our country that promote abuse of animals. There are many viewpoints imported into Canada which should be left in the “old country” as they only serve to reinforce popular prejudice. This is one of them.

    I am making a point about multiculturalism and incrementalism as it applies to the practice of desensitizing people to the treatment of animals. Should Canadians be willing to accept the eating of dogs and cats in Canada, merely because it is accepted practice in some other locales in the world? Should we be afraid to critique the eating of Bear Paw soup because to do so might subject us to cries of “racism?”

  6. Even if the bull is not killed, why is it considered ok to torment and harass an animal into chasing people for entertainment? Put the spectators in the ring and let them chase and slap each other for entertainment. At least they will be able to make the decision on when it is no longer “FUN” and quit, unlike the bulls who have no voice.

  7. While this fight is bloodless, it is nevertheless a cruel and unacceptable way to treat animals. They are teased, tormented, terrorized, poked and prodded mercilessly. Being part of a heritage does not make it less cruel. Family entertainment should not include a lesson for children on how to mistreat animals. And no, it is not acceptable in Western culture to tease dogs. Children who are taught that teasing dogs is OK usually end up getting mauled at some point in their life.

  8. I still think that this should end.
    If anyone wants to tease anything do it human to human and just stop involving animals
    I always hated this type of “sport”, I think there is no place for excuses…stop this madness.

  9. We see a need to stop the use of bulls and horses for this “bloodless” Portugueses bullfighting event for it is inherently cruel to the animals and poses great risk to the humans who watch and take part in the show. Animal torture is not an admirable cultural practice – it serves to permit animal cruelty as socially acceptable. Teaching the public that loving bulls means you should fear and hate them and most importantly, cheer and applaud male domination over animals is offensive in this day and age.
    We have asked what the fate of the animals after the show – are the bulls sent for slaughter after enduring this highly stressful and traumatic experience? Or are the bulls sold off or returned to their “owner”.
    The key issue is that no animals used in such a performance do so with consent. They are forced to endure hours of transportation, inadequate shelter, loud screaming crowds of people. Furthermore, there is the risk that they are starved, drugged, isolated and taunted, struck with instruments to cause fear and pain for the sake of creating a spectacle event that is not natural to their behaviour.

  10. I am an Azorean and from the island where this style of bullfighting comes from. It is true that there is no stabbing of the bulls in this type of bullfighting, but the bulls are still hurt in a variety of ways, at least as it is practiced in the Azores. They are often injured by bumping into walls or falling down when running, kept in their small cages for hours waiting to be released sometimes under intense sun, and hit and teased before release. Besides, the practice contributes to the promotion of a general attitude towards bullfighting that makes it more likely that bullfighting with harpoons can happen elsewhere. There is increasing resistance in the island to all forms of bullfighting and I for one do not accept that this practice represents me in any way.

  11. I don’t care if it is so called fashionable. What about the treatment of the bulls before this fight. tHE transportation there which is stressful and they probably have not been fed or had water for days. Since when is tormenting any animal a sport. This is 2013 if you want to see bullfights go back to your country. You and this habit are not welcome here.

  12. Somebody please inform me of the cruelty…from what I read it’s a bunch of people playing with the bull with umbrellas. There is no blood. Kinda like when I play with my dog. So please explain in detail what you mean by cruel.

  13. I can’t stand when people give their opinions when they don’t have a clue what it’s about. We do not harm the bulls in any way. The sticks that are put on the bulls back are made of Velcro. They are never hurt. It’s a long Portuguese tradition. Other cultures are the cause for the bulls being killed not Portugal. Before you give any opinions on it, go see it and get informed before you say anything. If you are trying to stop bullfighting then why don’t you go stop the horse races at the casino, and while you are at it, stop the rodeo in Calgary. People wake up, and get informed. We are the last culture that would ever want to hurt animals.

  14. I agree that the Bull doesn’t have a choice and is being teased and provoked, but has Denny said there are other animal abusing sports activities etc.

    Animal (dog, horse whatever races).
    keeping pets in confined spaces (birds, reptiles, fish, etc. in cages).
    Circus animal performers.
    Hunting. (for sport)

    Cruelty to animals began when men started to domesticate animals to do their bidding. Any sport related to mounting a horse is pure cruelty also.

    So don’t tell me that in Canada there are none of those activities and that bullfighting countries are the Barbaric or disrespectful-to-animals countries.

    And believe me that the life of a Bull that participates in the traditional Bullfight (where the Bull is indeed being hurt against is will) is much better than the life of a cow bred for slaughter (in a world that eats too much meat).

    I’m not saying that a Bull show shouldn’t be condemned, but I just don’t like the attitude of “it’s a barbaric show that doesn’t fit in our highly-advanced moral society, that nevertheless accepts rodeo shows and animal races etc.”

  15. There is more cruelty in rodeo’s than there is in these events. They lasso a steer and toss it to the ground and tie its legs. They ride the back of bulls and horses and when they open the gate they tighten a rope across there you know whats to make them buck.

    In Portuguese bullfighting the bulls are primarily used once and then are released to pasture.

    So if you believe that this should be banned, then Rodeos should definitely be abolished as well, I bet Calgary would love that.

  16. The running of the bulls is a long time tradition in Portugal, what we ask is that the bull be treated in a human manner in the ring no umbrella’s should be used. Remember poking this at the bull and it might poke his eye out. The real inhuman thing is when you run the bulls in a different property other than your own the animal has to be transported in a small confined crate for hours to reach the place where this takes place, think standing in the same position and no water or food for hours! Then you reach your destination depending on the time and it will be early the animal again is stuck in the same confined crate until the time comes for the show. once done back into the same crate and wait for their transport back to where they came from again a few hours in the same crate in this heat with only buckets of water thrown down at them to cool them off because there is no room in there to put water for drinking. Now tell me is this not being inhumane to these animals? worry more about the transportation and less about them running around in the arena. In my opinion and this is only my opinion this event should only take place in a place that is owned by the person or person’s doing this because once the show is ready to start they go straight from their pasture to the ring and once done back out to their pasture where the are free to run, walk, eat, and, drink!

  17. Bull fighting is no longer allowed in Downsview Park or anywhere else in Toronto. It is still allowed outside Toronto at Dundalk, Ontario. The Toronto Star July 28, 2015 Section GT had an account organized by the Granadaria Sol Y Toiros.

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