Sports

Mouse, Spain's Killer Bull

Mouse, or "Raton" in Spanish, weighs 700 pounds. That's an average weight, but what sets Mouse apart is his rap sheet: he has killed three people and injured dozens of others in festivals across Spain.

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Normally bulls with blood on their horns are pulled from festivals. Because the big beasts are quick studies. Once they figure out how to chase humans down, they don't forget. Actually, they get better and better at it.

But Mouse has become a huge money-maker for his owner — and way too popular among aficionados. So he continues his bloody circuit from town to town as thousands of pueblos stage their summer celebrations.

Mouse first killed in 2006. Then again in 2008. And two weeks ago the black and white fury gored to death a 30-year-old man in Valencia.

Spain's most famous summer festival is the "Running of the Bulls" in Pamplona. But thousands of lesser known Spanish villages also rent bulls each year. For one tense hour the beasts charge around makeshift corrals as the brave and the foolish taunt and tease them. Participants don't kill the animal, they just try to get as close to it as possible — and then scurry to safety.

For the bull owners, a one hour festival usually earns them about $1,500. But for Mouse's owner, death has brought even more riches. Gregorio de Jesus is earning up to $10,000 per festival this summer with his infamous bull.

"Bulls like Mouse don't come around every day," he told Spanish television recently. "I think it'd be a good idea to clone him."

As the money rolls in, so do the fans.

"Raton!" screamed a female spectator from edge of a corral at a recent festival. "Let's see if you catch someone tonight, assassin!" she said in the amateur video, posted on youtube.

Anti bullfighting organizations say Mouse is proof that bull fighting is pure blood sport. They want bulls banned from the summer festivals. But town halls are likely to keep renting the animals, as long as the crowd keeping paying to risk their lives.

"A bull once gave me eight stitches in the scrotum," said a young man earlier this year, after barely escaping Mouse's horns. "I like to tangle with the bulls," he said. "Just as some people like to ride motorcycles. One day you might slip up and fall. And if you do, well, that'd be that."

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    Sevilla, 2004. A bull tosses a "matador" to the sand. Bulls learn quickly, and become more dangerous the more time they spend in the ring. (photo: Gerry Hadden)
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    Sevilla, 2004. A bull tosses a "matador" to the sand. Bulls learn quickly, and become more dangerous the more time they spend in the ring. (photo: Gerry Hadden)

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