x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

A truly bull market

Spain has given a whole new meaning to "bull market" with a killer animal named Mouse, the favourite at running-of-the-bulls festivals across the country.

Investors in Spain just can't get enough: tens of thousands of euros exchanging hands, even in these most turbulent of times for global economies. It is, quite literally, a bull market out there - but it has nothing to do with the world's stocks.

A 500-kilogram bull named Ratón, or "mouse", has over the last 10 years become the main attraction at running with bulls festivals, despite the fact that he has, tragically, been responsible for the deaths of three participants in that time. That the latest victim had been expelled by an organiser - only to sneak back - makes the death more senseless.

"He's the one that gets the highest prices," owner Gregorio de Jesus said of his star bull. "But still he works out the cheapest because wherever he goes organisers double the ticket price."

And that translates into more profits for Ratón's owners who, trading on his rising reputation and their confidence in his fame, now charge up to €10,000 (Dh52,500) for every festival appearance.

Many are disturbed by the continued popularity of these events and the inevitable casualties they produce. Others will see the sad irony of a bull being the perpetrator rather than the victim of violence passed off as sport. But as long as demand for these festivals - and for bullfighting - endures, there will tragically be casualties, animal and human.

In the meantime, Ratón's stock just keeps on rising.