Full disclosure: I was a cow in another life
Time for the traditional summer Aurochs Arising update to examine the current state of the art in killer bull breeding!
Summer is the time of year with most deaths by bull in Spain, because most if not all of the victims are townsfolk celebrating their summer fiestas by dodging killer bulls. No, seriously.
As mentioned in the first Aurochs report, the strong link between the Iberian man and the auroch goes back at least to the days of the Cromagnons, and is thus imprinted in the native DNA. The thrill of feeling like a hairy hominid with a club running for the closest tree may be atavistic, but it is also strangely fulfilling… so long the aurochs doesn’t actually catch you.
It is still too early in the season to have much data (last year there were 4 deaths and 676 injured by bull in the Community of Valencia, where these celebrations are most common), but so far there has been one clear protagonist of the season, a killer bull with the unlikely name of Ratón (Mouse) who gave some drunken yob the full extreme prejudice treatment during the fiestas of Xàtiva in Valencia. Some footage of Ratón in action can be seen in this news piece on Spanish TV a few days ago. Note this piece does not include footage of the most recent goring, which was even more brutal than the ones shown here.
Despite the tragedy of yet another really stupid guy (he had been removed from the plaza for being completely smashed, but snuck back in) having to die to further the legend of Ratón the Killer Bull, what is of real interest is WHY this bull’s kill/wound ratio is high enough to command a cache of 10 thousand euros per gig, which is what his owner got paid the night the yob was bludgeoned to death.
The bull has a technique which is different and unique. Breeder Gregorio de Jesús compares his bull to Cassius Clay for its ability despite it’s size. “He’s agile, smart, fast. Very humorous. He’s no brute, like other bulls that go by instinct and bash into everything. This one likes to think, analyze and then attack.”
Ratón uses attacks that are uncommon, such as using his horns and forehead to bludgeon downwards, when usually bulls scoop and lift (which he does as well), and applying continued blows where other bulls would give only one. His killer instinct has so far chalked up two fatalities, the first one 5 years ago, and 30 gorings without death.
His cache is an order of magnitude above the average 1K fare, he only does 10 gigs a year when most bulls do hundreds, and, last but not least, he only plays venues where the bull is NOT sacrificed after the event.
According to his owner, Ratón is also a prime candidate for cloning. The true aurochs gene is recessive and elusive; cross after cross it gets hidden by the domestic cow genes to produce dumb placid bulls that are little more than steak with legs. Somehow, some way, it manifested in Ratón, which makes him not only more valuable than most fair bulls, but more valuable than most of the people he crushes, too.
If cows were grudge-bearing creatures, Ratón would be their avenger, their champion, eleven hundred pounds of bovine retribution against the oppressors. But it isn’t like that. The only party interested in the killer auroch traits is us humans, and only for the same old twisted reasons: death and money. The more the beast kills, the more it’s worth, which is commonly accepted as being “the way things are”, but is really just the way we are.
Well, that much is true. It was the Romans who invented the killer auroch business to feed the coliseums all over the empire and even in Rome itself. Today, in the era of organized sport competitons, bull baiting seems like what it is, primitive fun for primitive people, but if the flip side of the coin is preserving original genetic traits that belong to the species, let the bread & circus continue!
We may not be able to create employment or pay our debt, but we may very well live to see the mighty aurochs sillouhetted once again against the endless sky of the wild Iberian plains, running free and unhindered… except for the clone of Ratón. For him there’s still work to do at the coliseum, where the banksters and crooked politicos will get a chance to run like their hairy hominid ancestors as the hungry crowd cries out for more.
Portrait of Ratón by Tania Castro in El País