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In Andean Bullrings, Bulls Fight ... Condors

Annual tradition pits heaven against earth
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2013 4:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – If you thought humans against bulls was an alarming tradition, check out how they do it in Peru: condors against bulls. The cross-species fight is part of an annual Andean festival known as the Yawar Fiesta, or Blood Festival, in which wild condors are tied to the bulls' backs, then released into a bullring to do battle, the New York Times reports. The condor is the sacred bird of the Andes, so the fight represents a battle between heaven and earth.

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The Andean condor is considered a threatened species, and the tradition has, not surprisingly, drawn criticism from conservationists. The condors peck at the bulls' backs and eyes as they run around terrified, but in this year's fiesta, at least, no condors or bulls died. After the fight, the condors were paraded through the town and then received a warm farewell at they flew off from a nearby hillside, reports the Times. "Everyone in the community makes a wish," explains a Peruvian anthropology professor, "and the condor becomes the bearer of their wishes." (Read more Peru stories.)

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