Toro de la Vega, simple tradition?


For at least the past 500 years the town of Tordesillas (Valladolid) has celebrated the “Toro de la Vega” tournament on the September 8th – the holy day of Our Lady of Guidance (el Día de la Virgen de la Guía).

The “Toro de la Vega” tournament is, according to the event’s council, “a competition and confrontation between man and bull, one armed with a spear, the other with its natural defenses.” This is aside from the fact that this same organization includes in its ordinances that “ both, the bull and the fighter, must be of equal natural condition.”

We question if the spear for the man forms part of his natural condition…or if whether a bull that is surrounded by dozens of people handling these weapons is participating in a fight on equal terms. Yet this is not what motivates us to speak out (although this is of great concern). The real issue is what actually happens in this battle - how a human actually can come out winning in this fight. And if you are unaware of how this is accomplished, we describe it briefly in the following text.

The bull, protagonist in the middle of this cruel commotion, is set loose in an area close to the town square (la Palaza Mayor) and is forced to run through part of the old town until it reaches an open field – the place there the “celebrations” begin.

Source: El Mundo Valladolid.
Throughout the bull’s route, it has to run among hundreds of people who are calling its attention, shouting at it, hitting it, and even throwing things at its body (Check out videos online of this event - but we warn you! It can be disturbing!)

In the open field the bull’s competitors are waiting for its arrival. Some are on foot, others on horseback, but all have the same objective: to win the battle - to kill the bull with the spears before it is able to voluntarily leave the marked-off battleground.

In this cruel manner year after year a bull dies in this village. While trying to escape it is assaulted by dozens of sharp spearheads until it receives the final sentencing blow of death. Can you even begin to imagine what horror this is for the animal?

Is it ethical to unload all of this aggression on a living being? What if the only reason is for the mere entertainment of a few human beings? Can tradition alone justify human actions? Does this event merit to be considered a valued legacy in the local cultural heritage, where there seems to be no room for reason, empathy, and compassion? We respond to all of these questions with an emphatic NO!

We also do not support the fact that children are exposed to these acts of violence and aggression, which may instigate similar actions (against humans or animals) out of imitation. If this is allowed to happen, we are choosing for them to lose their sensitivity to certain stimuli. This may result in violent reactions, generating physical or verbal aggression with others or causing them to be impassive to the suffering of others. The new generations have a right to be educated by models that encourage values such as solidarity, dialog, tolerance, respect for differences, resolving problems without violence, and respect for all living things.

But at Roots & Shoots we’re optimists and we believe that without a doubt there is hope! We predict that this event has a very short future.

For one thing, as the number of tourists that come to see this event increases, so does the number of people (and in much greater numbers) who express their absolute repulsion for the tournament. We are sure that the political parties of our country, elected officials who represent the entire population, are taking note of the sentiment of the majority of the country concerned about these “celebrations.”

Additionally, we trust that the current educational models that put a growing emphasis on values (such as solidarity, empathy, compassion, and respect) will stress the relationship human beings have with the planet and all other living beings. We hope that future generations from the town of Tordesillas will also form part of this change…

This past Sunday, September 9th, a group from Roots & Shoots made a respectful request to the people of Tordesillas for empathy with a message written on a banner. Unfortunately, as has been happening over the past years, the local authorities did not allow any gathering of protesters within the city.

But we will not give up! That same day members of the team and the R&S groups “El Cisne Negro” and “TarracosBull” attended a rally in the city of Valladolid asking the regional government of Castilla y León to make this cruel event illegal. There, joined by a number of other organizations (Partido Animalista Pacma, Humane Society International, CAS International, among others), we were able to spread our message.

TVE, the national television station, as well as other media outlets broadcasted the news.

We will be working constantly on spreading our message so that this atrocity has its days limited. One way or another, we will make a difference!

Everything is connected...


Today, March 21st is Arbor Day!

To celebrate, why not take 40 seconds to think about how everything is connected...

One year in 40 seconds from Eirik Solheim on Vimeo.

When is tree is cut down, no matter where - in India, Africa, or Spain - we lose yet another natural air filter, natural water purifier, protection against drought and flooding, and a place that animals, insects, and birds can call home.

The air, the water, the land, the biodiversity, and therefore our own well-being....EVERYTHING depends on the trees and forests. EVERYTHING is connected!

And when we plant a tree, like this Roots & Shoots group from Canada has done, not only do we improve our communities and our lives, but the global well-being of our Earth.

After this visit from the Roots &Shoots group in Canada, let's travel to the other side of the globe to see how much fun the R&S group from the University in Shangrao, China had on their tree planing day.

Be it in Canada, China, or anywhere in the northern hemisphere today and throughout the spring, people like you are planting trees, giving roots a place to spread and shoots of hope for a future with cleaner air and water, and a better world.

If you plan on celebrating Arbor Day or hope to plant some trees this spring to make your community a better place, DON'T FORGET TO BRING ALONG YOUR CAMERA!!! Take some pictures! Send us a video! Tell us about your experience and we'll publish it here on your blog.

We'd love to hear about your experiences, your ideas, and your vision for the future!

Together we can make the world a better place!

Be the change you want to see!

We'd like to welcome...


Scout Hercules 283!

"Hercules 283" is the name that someone came up with for a group of scouts from A Coruña in 1975. Without a doubt, none of its founding members would have been able to predict that thirty-six years later the scout group would still be around and include almost fifty children and young adults. 

The current members, aged 7 to 21, are divided into a number of different sections according to age and official guidelines established by the Spanish Federation of Scout Associations (ASDE). The members from each section discuss during a general assembly their common interests and how they are going to collaborate to work on them, always with the help and guidance of their leaders.

All of their new projects over the upcoming months are dedicated toward improving the environment, and we celebrate their recent integration into the Jane Goodall Institute's Global Roots & Shoots program. WELCOME!

Let's begin with youngest section ,"La Manada" (The Pack), which is comprised of eighteen children ages 7 to 11.

The members, "Los Lobatos" (The Wolf Cubs), have decided to tackle the problem of all the plastic and aluminum foil that is used to wrap up their snacks and lunches. They've decided to take matters into their own hands with the project "Responsible Snacks" where each child picks a reusable container for snack, personally decorates it, and finally puts an end to the need for unnecessary packaging and waste.

Isn't that a great and simple idea?

Now, every Saturday afternoon while the group sits around the table at a snack-time meeting, they figure out other actions to take in the up-coming week. It's their "Eco-Advice" time! Things like taking a shower instead of a bath, which were once difficult to get used to doing, are now simple habits. Great job kids!

What's more (yes! there is more!), this group also collaborates with Rebeca Atencia, a veterinarian from their own region who is in charge of Tchimpounga, a chimpanzee recuperation center run by the Jane Goodall Institute in Congo, Africa. They have decided to help the more than 150 orphaned chimpanzees that have been rescued from hunters, traffickers, or individuals that held them as pets. The hope is that they will soon be reincorporated into the wild. More info here! 

Now it's time to learn about "La Tropa" (The Troup), the section of fourteen children aged 11 to 14.

"The Manada" of Scout Group Hercules 283 has decided to join the program "Movilízate por la Selva", a project of the Jane Goodall Institute in Spain. Proceeds from mobile phone collection and recycling go to helping operate Tchimpounga and other programs.

In only one month, the group has collected 48 cell phones among the fourteen members. Moreover, every week you can see all the phones they have collected on a counter kept on the group's website. They have become "Mobile Agents" with great ideas to collect old phones. For example, Hugo has put up an announcement in the entrance of his apartment building telling neighbors they can bring used phones to his home and they will be recycled responsibly. Many thanks Hugo! Great idea! We hope other groups will do the same!

Working together with the younger group, they have expanded the mobile phone recycling program and now have a new project to collect ink and toner cartridges. Every week you can visit the counter on their website to see just how many items they are collecting and recycling.

But what this group of fourteen young people really like is being in nature. Therefore they have joined in on the program "Proyecto Ríos" (Project Rivers). This program, which is carried out in six regions of Spain, involves more than 1,400 groups of volunteers who commit to collecting research material on a section of their local river. The data are then sent to the central offices of Proyeco Ríos where they are analyzed and written up into reports that will help determine if any action to protect the river needs to be taken.

"The Troup" has chosen the River Castro for a very special reason. This river runs through the small area of Narahío where the first environmental scout center of Spain is located. This center was created in May of 2010 by Hercules 283, now a member of R&S Spain!

Moving on to he next group! "La Esculta" (The Pioneers) is the next oldest scout group of young adults aged 14 to 17. They are so completely dedicated to the projects they decide to take on, it has been a little difficult for them to decide exactly what project to choose. At first they considered participating in "Proyecto Ríos," but they want to go above and beyond and are studying possibly "adopting" a section of the river to keep it clean throughout the year. This is a great idea that we hope many other R&S Spain groups decide to join in on!!

And finally there is the oldest group, "The Clan" with members aged 17 to 21. Although they are the smallest group, they are beginning a very ambitious project: convert the space that Hercules 283 uses into, not only a place for meetings and getting together, but also a recycling center! This is a great project that brings together all the efforts of all the groups and members through the recycling of mobile phones and empty cartridges.

Bravo for a great example of synergies at work!

We believe wholeheartedly in the development of all of these projects that have begun and that are about to begin. We thank you so much for sharing all of this with the other groups of R&S Spain and the rest of the world!

Welcome R&S Group Hercules 283!

Celebrate the 21st Anniversary of Roots & Shoots!


Twenty-one years ago, Dr. Jane Goodall and a group of students from Tanzania began what has become an international youth movement dedicated to creating a better world.

Global Educational Program personally led by Jane Goodall, to energize and mobilize young people around the world to create a better world.

Today, in more than 120 countries, hundreds of thousands of Roots & Shoots groups work together on service projects led by youth to improve the environment and increase the quality of life for people and animals.

Thinking about the years ahead, what's your hopeful vision for the future? What does a Roots & Shoots vision look like? Can you see a cleaner environment? Can you imagine how to improve the lives of people and animals in your community?

Celebrate the 21st Anniversary with Dr. Jane in sharing your vision!

Write us to
Find us on facebook at Roots and Shoots España Spain



Today we won’t talk about of one single Roots&Shoots group... today the protagonists are the synergies of a handful of people from different areas have managed showing the soul of Roots& Shoots during recent weeks.

Synergy means cooperation and, according to Wikipedia, is defined as the result of the joint action of two or more causes, but characterized by having a greater effect than that resulting from the sum of these causes.

We are fortunate to have a various R&S groups scattered throughout many regions of Spain, each with their own projects. Today's story deals with two of them.

El Cisne Negro, is a volunteer group of animal rights led by Clara Carrillo, partner and IJGE super-volunteer. This group was created one year ago in Barcelona. From the beginning, it’s been collaborating with many associations in defence of abandoned animals, which have limited funds or few workers. The volunteers take care of the animals in a variety of ways, for example walking the dogs, feeding the cats, and in many cases the volunteers provide the supplies. They also administer the veterinary medicines, build and repair the the dogs' and cats' shelters, clean up after them. El Cisne Negro promotes the responsible adoption of dogs and cats through various activities and exhibitions.

The empathy felt by members of this group also extends to fellow humans. El Cinse Negro has worked on a variety of other solidarity campaigns. One of these was helping collect over11 tons of plastic caps in a matter of a few days. YES! A trailer truck full of plugs!!! The recuperated plastic will be sold to a recycling company and the money received in return will be contributed to adapting the home of a 15 year old boy who suffered a serious accident while playing. As a result, the boy was afflicted with irreversible brain damage and loss of mobility. In another project, El Cisne Negro is collecting more plastic caps to help pay for an auditory implant with a girl.

Yet the work of El Cisne Negro extends even further!

The group is working with the recycling campaign Movilízate por la Selva , the mobile phone collection campaign run by the IJGE, raising awareness of the issues associated with conflict minerals mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Additionally, a few weeks before Christmas, El Cisne Negro took part in a project with Azinnia, a group of volunteers at the Hospital del Mar. All the members of El Cisne Negro worked toward collecting books and toys for the children's playroom. These children, and especially this group of volunteers from the Hospital, have been named honoraries Chimpamigos Petit Prince of the year (

But this is only the beginning of a network of active and positive people who are sharing initiatives, knowledge, projects and desire to improve the world for all!

Every year, children hospitalized in this center are visited by Santa Claus and a group of entertainers who deliver of toys and sing Christmas carols. However this recent Christmas season, Santa was only going to come alone. Having heard this, Aude—a Cisne Negro volunteer and member of the international group of jazz and swing a capella singing group  El Trio Chikiboom—encouraged her partners come to the rescue! They sang, cheered, and brought joy to the patients, family members, volunteers, and staff of the Hospital del Mar. The holiday festivities were in full swing!

And where did the toys come from? Eight boxes full of toys arrived all the way from Zaragoza!

When children of the R&S El Cuarto Hocico found out that their friends of R&S el Cisne Negro (with whom they share their passion for dogs and cats) were bringing smiles to hospitalized children, the Cuartohociqueros decided to collaborate. The children collected toys in their home town, Muel, and two nearby villages. They also wrote some letters to accompany the sweets and tender...that it is best you read them!

Cesar, is the teacher and leader of el Cuarto Hocico group of kids and teaches children the important things in life. Thanks to him, the toys were sent for free by SEUR Foundation to Barcelona. Then Alex, member of the R&S El Cisne Negro picked them up, filled his car with toys, and took them to hospital.

A handful of active and positive people, a Santa Claus, the girls of Chikiboom Trio dressed as "Mother Clauses," the children, some families who received a special bit of love (which in part, came from the bottom of the heart of children many miles away). All of this was pure tenderness, affection, and thankfulness! The synergies between the groups, all of them working to make a better world; it’s a message of hope that inspires and motivates all of us.

It's possible to make a better place. 

As Jane Goodall says:

"Every one of us can make a difference, every day."

Happy New Year!!!


We would truly like to thank the members of Roots&Shoots El Cuarto Hocico and El Cisne Negro, as well some other people who has made it possible:

Francisco J. Alcazar Garcia de Guadiana
Assistant to the President of Foundation SEUR

Ana Gomez Sancho Travesedo
Head of Customer Care Hospital del Mar

Silvia Bascompte and other volunteers from the Azinnia

Anne, and Aude Txell: Trio Chikiboom



On December 17th a very special thing happened in the city of Zaragoza, Spain.

César, teacher and head of academics at the Orba de Muel school as well as the leader of the “El Cuarto Hocico” R&S group, tells us how the twelve students participating in this R&S group, the major figures of this story, made it happen.

We would like to join this group in encouraging children around the world, regardless of their country of origin, to take part in this initiative to raise awareness on the animal abandonment issue. Would you like to create an online Animal Protection Association at your school? Contact these kids and they will tell you how easy it can be to broaden this network of online associations!

Congratulations, members of the Cuarto Hocico R&S group!!

Note: We would like to thank the Sustainability Office of the University of Sevilla for advertising this initiative:

In César’s words:


“Tell me, grease-stained dog, who do you belong to?
I belong to whoever wants me. Take me to your home.”

That’s how the Cuarto Hocico’s Christmas Carol “Tell me dog, who do you belong to?” begins.

December 17th was a very special day. On that day children's voices could be heard through the wind and the cold and little dogs and cats could hear those voices full of hope.

The Cuarto Hocico’s boys and girls—who manage an online Animal Protection Association at the Muel school—gathered their banners and coats and made their way towards the main square in Zaragoza, to where the El Corte Inglés store is. When they got there, they tuned their voices and began to sing Christmas Carols with an animal theme which they had previously written at school. Under big snowflakes made of light bulbs, they spent the evening handing out stickers and singing in favour of animal adoption and against animal purchase.

Spain leads the ranking of European countries in terms of animal abandonment; more than 200,000 animals are abandoned each year. It is at Christmas when more animals are purchased on a whim at large stores and shopping malls. People stop by to watch puppies through the shop windows and are only able to see how cute they are. Beyond that image there are responsibilities towards a pet, something many children don’t know when they ask for a puppy. In a matter of months the puppy will grow, it will require someone to attend to its needs, it will bite or scratch things—which is completely normal for cats and dogs—and it is then when abandonment occurs in many cases.

The twelve children from the Cuarto Hocico group, aged between 10 and 11 years old, have been advertising the “An animal is not a toy” campaign for weeks. They launched an international poster competition in order to raise awareness among all schools about this issue and encouraged children from other Spanish cities to follow this initiative and gather together in their hometowns.

Many children showed their support and many teachers encouraged their students to support this campaign. There were also parents accompanying their kids and singing along.

On that Saturday many animals heard their voices. Many adults did too. On that Saturday the members of the Cuarto Hocico group and many animals went to sleep feeling cold due to the low temperatures but otherwise happy.

Our fight has not concluded, however. This is only the beginning. If you think you can change things for the better and make the world a better place for everyone—animals included—then you only need to contact us at and become a Cuarto Hocico ambassador in your school.

Together we will change the world, we are sure of it! Maybe we don’t realize it right now but in a few years we’ll be able to see the benefits for animals and humans alike. Doing something to help others without asking for anything in return makes us better human beings. You only need some initiative to rise up and say “I’m going to do something today.”

Check our blog and get information about our activities at:

We have a couple of projects at the international level this year and we need determined people!

We want you to join us!

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..........................................-Jane Goodall

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