FAMOUS bullfighter Francisco Rivera Ordóñez has come under fire for carrying his five-month-old daughter in one arm whilst spearing a cow in the ring with another.
The provincial prosecution service in Sevilla has opened an inquiry into whether his actions, considered foolhardy by many, constitute child neglect.
Acting health minister Alfonso Alonso says it is 'not appropriate to put minors at risk' and says Fran Rivera should be 'pulled up' for his actions, but the Children's Ombudsman has expressed its 'absolute condemnation' of the father's behaviour.
Rivera uploaded a photo of himself in the ring fighting a one-year-old cow, or becerra, whilst holding his baby, with the caption, “Carmen's début – the fifth generation of bullfighters in our family.”
He said his grandfather, Antonio Ordóñez – much admired by American author Ernest Hemingway – carried his father in his arms as a baby whilst in the ring, and Fran Rivera himself was carried by his own father, whose bullfighting nickname was Paquirri.
Even Rivera's elder daughter, Cayetana, was 'baptised' in the ring in the same way.
Paquirri was killed at the age of just 36 in a fatal goring in 1984, leaving Fran an orphan.
And Fran himself nearly lost his life in August when he was gored in the stomach.
Despite furious comments on the Twitter thread, including one user who wrote, “if I was your wife, I'd kill you,” Rivera said she was 'never going to be safer' than in his arms.
The condemnation of Fran's actions has gone global – British comedian and animal-lover Ricky Gervais, of The Office, wrote: “He's sorta fused animal abuse with child abuse,” but then deleted his post and replaced it with, “Bullfighting is mental, dangerous and cruel. With or without a baby.”
Other bullfighters have come out in support of Rivera, with Manuel Díaz, alias El Cordobés, asking 'what the problem was' with 'showing our children a profession we love' and 'teaching them about our values'.
Álvaro Oliver posed in a bullring with his nephew 'in support of @paquirri74', whilst in response to the Twitter user who said she would 'kill' Rivera if she was his wife, Andrés Sánchez posed with his son Rodrigo and the caption, “with my wife Elisabet Pinero's permission.”
Equality minister María José Sánchez said a fireman 'would never take his child with him to put out a fire' and a footballer 'would never run around a pitch carrying his baby'.
Political pro-animal protection party PACMA is among those who not only focused on the danger to the child, but on the fact that taking an infant to a bullfight was sending out the wrong message to children about how animals should be treated.
Spain's overwhelming focus on animal protection and care means the majority of citizens consider bullfighting unnecessary cruelty and want it to be banned.
A Valencian vet was recently quoted in a regional newspaper as saying: “Once upon a time, animals were treated as though they had less value than material chattels, and it was very rare anyone bothered to take their animals to the vet beyond their initial injections.
“Now, thankfully, the reverse is true, vets work around the clock and animals are considered another member of the family.”
The changing values mean even older generations who grew up with bullfighting being considered a spectacular sport and a work of art are now rejecting it as cruelty and torture.
Photograph from Twitter