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Grizzly Bear vs. Fighter Bull: The Blood Sport of California

Dashamlav | 16 May 2022 (अंतिम बदलाव: 16 May 2022)

Humans have been doing weird things for their entertainment for ages. One of the weird and equally cruel things was animal fights. Though animals fight among each other like humans do. However, making them fight for our entertainment is not not expected from the modern civilized society. You might be surprised to know that ‘blood sports’ were a very common part of human civilization across the world.

You might have heard about cockfights and dogfights. Today we are sharing the tale of fights between grizzly bears and bulls. This blood sport was quite famous in California in the 19th century. If bears and bulls are left to live naturally on their own, these two animals would perhaps never meet in the wild. But, thanks to human interference, these two animals are considered the greatest foe to each other.

History tells that the bloody fights between grizzly bears and fighter bulls were as old as Rome. But, it became a thing of mass entertainment only in the 19th century. Earlier there used to be great amphitheaters known as ‘bear-gardens’ to host coerced beastly fights between bears and bulls throughout different parts of London. In the 19th century, the blood sport got prominence among the general public and so got organized in much crude form.

The events of bear and bullfights were organized typically on Sunday afternoons. The locals of California would go and pray in churches and after the prayers, they would gather around a ‘pit’ to get some entertainment. Though there were smaller events like cockfighting and dogfighting too, bear and bullfight was the main attraction.

A big temporary fighting arena known as a ‘pit’ was prepared especially for organizing the fights. Split-board fencing reinforced with heavy logs was used to define the fighting ground. Outside the area, raised platforms were built for women and children to enjoy the full view of the match. Men, on the other hand, sat on horseback with their revolvers and rifles ready for defense in case the bear crossed the fence.

Though the sport showcased an old custom, the fondness for it grew in the 19th century as the Grizzly bear was seen as a symbol of California, and the bull was seen as the symbol of Spain. It was customary to go on with rounds unless the bear was the undisputed winner.

It is believed that before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, California had around 10,000 grizzly bears which reduced gradually due to Spanish hunting of the beast.

To prepare the bear for the fight it was kept tied with one of its hind feet with a long rope to give it enough room to roam and use its paws and teeth. Small sacrificed dogs were provided to keep the beast in the ‘mood’. At the time of the fight, it was brought into the pit along with a fighter  bull which was decorated with garlands with an intention to baffle the bear. Both of them were tied to a rope long enough to give them room to roam around and short enough to keep them tied together. It was observed that it was the bull that often made the first attack while the bear kept a defensive posture. And it was the bear that generally had the upper hand in the fight.

Typical behavior of both the animals was noted during the fights. The bull always charged low with its head bowed down and rushed upwards with its horns hurting the bear. On the other hand, the bear always took mighty downward swipes with its paws bringing down its foe.

Did you know that this observation about the fighting style of these animals formed the basis of modern-day bearish and bullish trends in the share market. As the bull thrust its foe upwards it became the symbol of an upward trending market. And the pushing down style of the bear made it the symbol of a down-trending market.

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