Former Duluthian protests Pamplona's running of the bulls ... sans clothingFormer Duluthian Elisa Allen will do just about anything in her power to save animals — even if it means stripping down to her underwear on the streets of Pamplona.
Former Duluthian Elisa Allen will do just about anything in her power to save animals — even if it means stripping down to her underwear on the streets of Pamplona.
The 2000 East High School grad was recently in the Spanish city to protest its annual running of the bulls, which was held today as part of the nine-day San Fermín festival.
“We received a fantastic response from the crowds in Pamplona,” Allen told the Budgeteer. “They gave us such a loud cheer and applause after the protest it gave me goosebumps.”
Allen and her PETA activists donned red bodypaint to represent the injuries suffered by the bulls each year during the annual festival. The 100-odd protesters then got down on the ground and configured their bodies into the shape of a bull.
“Most Spanish people seem to have little interest in bullfighting,” said Allen, who works out of the animal rights organization’s London office. “It’s the tourists — many of whom are American — that really drive the festival. Most of these tourists unfortunately don’t realize that the same bulls which run down the streets of Pamplona are later brutally slaughtered in the bullring.”
Allen said she was first introduced to the issue of animal rights in high school, but that it wasn’t until college that she became more active in the movement.
“I joined the St. Olaf animal rights club and started doing quite a bit of reading and research on the topic,” she said. “Since then, animal rights have become a fairly big part of my life.
“I actually even went on to write my master’s dissertation on the animal rights movement — coincidentally, my thesis was called ‘Nudity and Activism: A Case Study of the Animal Rights Movement.’”
Coincidentally as well, what does her family think about this show of skin?
“They’re really proud of me for standing up for something I believe in,” Allen said. “My mom and twin sister were actually quite jealous, as they would have liked to have participated too.
“The decision to take off my clothes was an easy one. Nudity has proven an effective way to getting people to pay attention to some very serious issues. So, if I have to take off my clothes to get people to pay attention and finally put an end to this horrific blood sport, then that’s absolutely something I am willing to do.”
Allen then explained how she ended up in England.
“Prior to working for PETA in London, I was getting my master’s degree at the National University of Ireland, so moving to the U.K. was easy as it was only a short hop from Ireland,” she said. “I’ve been a great admirer of PETA and working for the organization has been a huge dream of mine. I’m getting paid to do something I’m extremely passionate about — what could be better?”
While Allen said the protest in Pamplona was “definitely” the biggest one she’s been involved with, she’s participated in several other high-profile animal rights events in Europe.
“I was involved in organizing the 2008 Rally for Animals, the largest-ever animal protection protest in Ireland,” she said. “I also recently became a PETA ‘Lettuce Lady’ in Wales; I handed out vegan sausages while dressed in pieces of lettuce to promote the country’s National Vegetarian Week.”