A woman has joined protesters in Spain to demonstrate against cruelty to bulls in one of the country’s most infamous events.

Abi Izzard, of Malvern, was one of 100 people painted in dark brown, black or red body paint who lay down in the main square of Pamplona to make the shape of a bull to protest before the start of the Running of the Bulls on Sunday.

The annual event sees bulls led through the streets of the old quarter to the bullring by runners in honour of the patron saint of Navarra.

Ms Izzard, aged 27, a former pupil of The Chase Technology College, became involved with the hour-long protest through her work as special projects co-ordinator with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The protest was co-ordinated by Spanish animal rights group Anima Naturalis with support from PETA.

Ms Izzard said: “I think it was really successful. There was a circle of people around us and huge crowds turned up.

"We had a lot of support and a lot of people were cheering.”

Prior to the Running of the Bulls, electric prods and sharp sticks are used to goad the bulls into a frenzy. Afterwards, the animals end up in the bullring.

A PETA spokesman said that in a typical bullfight, men on blindfolded horses drive lances into the bull’s back and neck, impairing the animal’s ability to lift his head.

Others plunge banderillas – sticks with harpoon points – into the bull’s back. Finally, after the animal has become weakened from blood loss, the matador kills it, usually with a single sword thrust.

Ms Izzard said: “Tormenting and butchering animals for entertainment is straight out of the Dark Ages.

“People all around the world agree that mutilating animals for amusement is unacceptable.”

She said bull-fighting was a “dying industry” in Spain, with the majority of audiences now made up of tourists.

A survey in 2009 showed 76 per cent of Spaniards had no interest in attending or supporting bullfights.

Last year, Catalonia became the latest in a long list of locations around the world, as well as the second region in Spain, to implement a ban on bull-fighting.

Ms Izzard said: “Once the tourists stop going, it will very quickly be the end of bull-fighting.”