It is an image that would shock most people around the world, but when matador Sebastian Castella held up the ear he had just cut off a live bull, the spectators in Pamplona’s infamous bull ring cheered and clapped.
The French matador had just fought off the horned bovine during the annual San Fermin festival in the northern Spanish city, where thousands of revellers take part in the daily ‘running of the bulls’.
Three men have been hospitalised so far today, having suffered injuries during the fifth day of the week-long festival where participants race with six bulls charging through Pamplona’s narrow streets to the city’s bull ring.
Cruel: French matador Sebastian Castella holds up the ear he has just cut off a live bull during a bullfight of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, northern Spain
Medieval: Castella stabs the Fuente Ymbro fighting bull during their fight in the infamous bullring in Pamplona
Beaten beast: French matador Sebastian Castella touches the horn of the bull towards the end of their battle
Jon Arizeta, a spokesman with the regional hospital of Navarra, tells reporters that two of the men injured suffered bruises to their arms, while the third runner was injured in the face.
Most people get injured when falling or being knocked down by the bulls racing along the 930-yard (850 meter) course to Pamplona’s bullring, where the animals are killed in the afternoon by matadors.
One person has been gored and about 18 people treated in the hospital during this years edition of the week-long event which finished on Saturday.
Inigo Plaza, a tall 29-year-old automobile worker who took part in a run this week, said: ‘The important thing is to finish in one piece and to be here again tomorrow.’
Tradition or abuse: Participants fall next to to Nunez del Cuvillo fighting bulls on the fifth bull run of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, northern Spain on Wednesday
Revellers from around the world flock to Pamplona every year to take part in the a week of the running of the bulls
The 400-year-old annual festival, held from the 6th to the 14th of July every year, honors the city’s patron saint, San Fermin, and attracts thousands of tourists
Participants are often injured during the daily bull runs through Pamplona’s narrow streets to the city’s bull ring
‘To have an animal weighing 600 kilos behind you and with all these people in the streets it’s an undescribable feeling of adrenaline and excitement,’ he gushed.
The festival claims scores of casualties every year.
In 2017, there were more than 17,000 participants and 64 were wounded. Seven of the injured had been gored.
Since 1910, 16 runners have died – the last one in 2009.
People look down from balconies as ‘mozos’ or runners try to avoid the bulls during the traditional San Fermin bull run through Estafeta street in Pamplona
Too slow: One person has been gored and about 18 people treated in the hospital during this years edition of the festival
Revellers fall next to fighting bulls from the Nunez del Cuvillo bull ranch during fifth day of the running of the bulls at the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona
Centre of the action: Pamplona’s famous bullring is seen filled with revellers as the running of the bulls continue when the cattle are let into the ring
‘It’s taking a lot of risks for nothing,’ said Raul Plaza, 37, who has run more than 130 times at San Fermin.
The run-up to this year’s event has been overshadowed by reminders of the brutal sexual assault of a young woman during the 2016 festival.
Five men calling themselves ‘The Wolf Pack’ filmed themselves while gang raping the 18-year-old woman, and later joked about the attack in a WhatsApp chatgroup.
Thousands of Spaniards protested in April after a court sentenced them for ‘sexual abuse’ rather than the more serious offence of ‘sexual assault’, and agreed to free them on bail pending an appeal.