Bull rejects Spain's Pamplona run

A 'recortador' jumps over a bull during a competition at the San Fermin festival in Pamplona Source: AP

A bull in Spain has turned back to its holding pen in Pamplona, in the first incident of its kind since the 19th century.

One bull chosen to take part in Saturday's San Fermin festival took one look at thousands of thrill-seekers waiting to be chased down Pamplona's narrow streets and scampered back to the safety of his corral.

In a scene that confounded revellers and experts - and could have been scripted by Munro Leaf, who wrote The Story of Ferdinand - a reticent bull named Curioso I barely ran 20 metres before heading back.

Meanwhile, his five ornery stable-mates gored four revellers - including one 20-year-old US citizen identified only by his initials AGO - and injured five others with cuts and bruises as they hurtled through the northern Spanish city.

One bull charged into runners, goring one deeply in a thigh while cutting another runner's leg as it lifted its head.

Red Cross spokesman Jose Aldaba said four people received treatment after being gored while at least five others were recovering from bruises.

Kiko Betelu of the region of Navarra's medical service said three of the gorings were simple to treat but one of the injuries was deep and required surgery.

Normally six bulls run in the San Fermin festival, but on this occasion Curioso - a 535 kilogram beast belonging to the Jose Escolar breeding ranch - later had to be transported to the ring to join the other five.

Unlike the gentle, flower-sniffing Ferdinand, Curioso almost certainly won't get a chance to retire.

According to San Fermin experts commenting for state television TVE, the last time a bull turned back to the holding pen was in the 19th century.

The run covers 850m from a holding pen on the edge of town to the central bullring where the beasts - including Curioso - face matadors and almost certain death in afternoon bullfights.

Source AAP

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