MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's Balearic Islands on Monday banned matadors from killing bulls in the ring, becoming one of several Spanish regions to move toward criminalizing the centuries-old blood sport.
The bill adopted in the Balearics parliament prohibits a bull's death in the ring and makes it illegal for the animals to endure physical or psychological damage. Bullfights will be limited to a maximum of 10 minutes, a parliament spokesman said.
Traditionally, every bullfight in Spain involves six of the specially-bred animals pitted against matadors for 20-30 minutes. At that point, matadors try to drive a sword between the bulls' shoulder blades and through the heart.
Under the new rules in the Balearics, the bull will be submitted for a medical checkup after the fight and then returned to the ranch from where it was raised.
The bill was introduced by Spain's center-left Socialist party (PSOE), the far-left Podemos party and other, smaller regional parties. While the ruling conservative People's Party (PP) and market-friendly Ciudadanos voted against it, they lacked the seats to block the bill.
The Balearic Islands are the second Spanish region where bullfighting is currently restricted. The Canary Islands passed a law in 1991 to protect bulls, including a clause against animal abuse in bullfights or local fiestas.
The northeastern region of Catalonia also passed a bill to ban all bullfighting outright in 2010. But the Constitutional court overruled the law last October, calling bullfighting a cultural asset protected under national law.
Held all over Spain, "la fiesta nacional" - as bullfights are known - is deeply embedded in the country's culture. But there is a growing animal rights protest movement calling for a full ban, rallying outside places like Madrid's emblematic Las Ventas bullring during fighting season.
(Reporting by Paul Day; editing by Sarah White and Mark Heinrich)