January 27, 1997 in Nation/World

Mayor: ‘Goat Suffers Less’ When Tossed, Not Lowered

Associated Press
 

Defying a government ban and animal rights protesters, villagers in northern Spain threw a goat from a church tower in keeping with an annual tradition.

People waiting below the 45-foot belfry caught the animal in a tarp and it apparently emerged uninjured.

Hundreds of area residents and tourists marched the goat through the streets of Manganeses de la Polvorosa Saturday then cheered as young men hurled the animal from the belfry.

The event, which coincides with the town’s annual festival to honor its patron saint, has attracted fierce protests from animal rights activists.

The governor of the Zamora province banned the ritual in 1992, and villagers had to content themselves with using ropes to lower the goat.

Last year, the village’s new mayor, Demetrio Prieto, defied the ban and allowed the goat to be tossed from the belfry.

He said that the townspeople could not enjoy their tradition when lowering the goat because they were too worried about whether it was properly tied or if it would unexpectedly fall.

“We do it this way because the goat suffers less and spends less time in the air,” he said. “This is not a pig. It is a goat, with the agility of a goat. It is an animal that jumps great distances in its natural environment.”

Only a few animal activists made the journey to this town, about 150 miles northwest of Madrid, this year.

The activists say they have seen goats fall to their death when they have missed the canvas sheet.

The following fields overflowed: DATELINE = MANGANESES DE LA POLVOROSA, SPAIN

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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