Fact Check: Photo Does NOT Show A Wounded Bull, Betrayed By The Owner Who Kissed Him And Did Nothing

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Photo Does NOT Show A Wounded Bull, Betrayed By The Owner Who Kissed Him And Did Nothing Not Killed

Does this photo illustrate a poignant tale of betrayal: a farmer kissing a bull that he raised and then sold to be killed in a bullfight? No, that's not true: This photo depicts a moment that happened during a daring athletic competition in Spain called a "Concurso de Recortadores," (usually called bull jumping in English). In this competition the bulls are not hurt or killed, although they are taunted to provoke them to charge. Young men take turns showing off daring acrobatic leaps and flips over the bull, or sometimes step out of the way of the charging bull's horns just at the last moment. The photo shows a competitor, a "recortadore," who was waiting his turn behind a partition of the arena. When the bull paused to look, the young man kissed him on the nose.

The photo resurfaced as a post (archived here) where it was published on Facebook by Quantum World: Awaken Your Mind on October 17, 2020. The photo has this story included with it:

This photo shows the owner of this bull. He raised the bull to fight in the arena. He sold him and so the bull had to fight. As he was wounded and bleeding he saw his owner watching the fight. He ran to him because he was the only one he knew. Begging for help he barely made it to his first owner. But instead of helping his bull he kissed him and did nothing. This picture is called "Kiss of Judas". There is nothing as brutal and disgusting as the human mankind.

Some variations of the meme captioning say, "The Spanish newspapers have named the picture 'The Kiss of Judas.'"

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Oct 19 17:56:37 2020 UTC)

This 2011 photo shows a man who is neither a farmer or an activist, he is a bull jumping athlete from Valencia named Óscar Holgado. He is waiting his turn in the arena behind one of the shielding partition walls called a burladero. As quoted in an AFP fact-check and translated by Google, he explained:

"The bull approached the partition and raised his face, either to smell me or to see what was there," he recalled, "he raised his nose and gave me a kiss." "It is not the first time I do it," he stressed.

The details of the story are described in a Spanish-language fact-check issued by factual.afp.com on February 5, 2020, "El hombre de esta foto de 2011 es un recortador que besó espontáneamente al toro" The AFP fact check includes credits to another fact-check article in Greek, "Αυτή η φωτογραφία δεν απεικονίζει το «φιλί του Ιούδα»" issued by ellinkahoaxes.gr which had shared a collection of photos of recortadores wearing the identical T-shirts as the one worn by Holgado in the famous photo.

From the photographic clues included in the Ellinka Hoaxes article, AFP was able to conduct an investigation that discovered a photo of the same moment from a slightly different angle. From there, they found the photographer, the location of the event -- Estella, Navarra province, Spain -- and interviewed both the athlete, Óscar Holgado, and the event promoter, Ignacio Caubilla, who also happens to be the rancher who raised the bull which was kissed on the nose. He explained that the bull was not bottle fed and that the bulls from this competition are not killed.

This photo has circulated with two different false captions, the one above with the "Kiss of Judas," and another with a very different, but equally false story. The second caption, from a July 15, 2013, Facebook post (archived here) from Veganism Worldwide reads:

The TRUE face of a bull in the bullfighting ring and a tender moment between the bull and an anti-bullfighting activist.

The bull is not an aggressive animal, and the reason he is angry and attempts to charge at the matador whilst in the bullring is mainly because he has been horrendously abused for the previous two days. In fact, what spectators see is not a normal, healthy bull, but a weakened, half-blinded and mentally destroyed version, whose chances of harming his tormentors is virtually nil. The bull has wet newspapers stuffed into his ears; vaseline is rubbed into his eyes to blur his vision; cotton is stuffed up his nostrils to cut off his respiration and a needle is stuck into his genitals. Also, a strong caustic solution is rubbed onto his legs which throws him off balance. This also keeps him from lying down on the ground. In addition to this, drugs are administered to pep him up or slow him down, and strong laxatives are added to his feed to further incapacitate him. He is kept in a dark box for a couple of days before he faces the ring: the purpose of this is to disorientate him. When he is let out of the box, he runs desperately towards the light at the end of the tunnel. He thinks that at last his suffering is over and he is being set free -- instead, he runs into the bullring to face his killers and a jeering mob.

The 2011 photo does not show a bullfight.

The province of Navarre has written into the regulations governing bullfighting events that the bulls from this event are not killed (translation: Google translate)

j) Concurso de recortadores: son los espectáculos en los que, sin muerte de las reses, los participantes compiten por recortar a las reses o colocarles anillas.

j) Trimmers contest: these are the shows in which, without the cattle being killed, the participants compete to trim the cattle or place rings on them.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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