Do Bulls Get Angry When They See Red?


By T.V. Antony Raj



In the above video, was the bull infuriated by the red coloured shawl worn by the Hindu sadhu?

Incidents such as this raise the perennial question “”

We have always been told not to go near a bull while wearing a red dress, or something similar to red that would make a bull angry.  Is it true?


A matador gets a bull's attention by waving his muleta. (Credit: Bull Fighter via Shutterstock)
A matador gets a bull’s attention by waving his muleta. (Credit: Bull Fighter via Shutterstock)


Bullfighting (Spanish: corrida de toros or toreo; Portuguese: corrida de touros or tourada) is one of the most popular and controversial traditional spectacular sport prevailing in Spain, Portugal, parts of southern France and in some Latin American countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru.

In some areas, people classify bullfighting as a blood sport, but in other areas, it is not considered a sport but a cultural event, a spectacle and art form with no elements of competition in the proceedings.

Some claim that bullfighting is an art form wherein professional toreros (bullfighters) seek to evoke inspiration and an emotional connection with the audience while attempting to subdue and slaughter the bulls.

The most senior torero who actually kills the bull is called a matador.

The matador executes various formal moves with the muleta (a small red cape) and a sword. A snorting bull charges at the muleta waved by the matador. The angry bull appears to see the red cape and charges angrily towards it.

After hooking the bull multiple times behind the shoulder by the matador, the bullfight concludes usually with the killing of the bull by a single sword thrust, called the Estacada. In Portugal, the finale consists of a tradition called the pega a, where men (forcados) try to grab and hold the bull by its horns when it runs at them.

The use of the muleta by Spanish matadors in bullfighting began at the beginning of the 18th century. From then on the myth that “red makes bulls go wild” perpetuated.

A group of MythBusters set out to find whether bulls really hate the colour red? Test this myth they decided to put makeshift matadors into an arena, each holding a cape or muleta of a different color including a red one.

The red, blue, green, and white capes got equal, mild attacks when they were motionless. Bulls, just like other cattle, do not differentiate between red, blue, green, and white colours. Only when the matador waved the cape, the bulls lose their temper and charge aggressively. Moreover, the bulls used in bullfights are from a very aggressive breed and they’re raised in a way that any sudden movements will make these bulls angry and make them attack.

So , this old myth that “a bull charges at the sight of red” can get tossed right out of our mindset.




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