We’ve all seen it on TV: the bullfighter waving a small, red cape in front of a bull so he or she guides the bull’s attacks and eventually kills the animal by sticking blades into its body. By viewing this rather gruesome physical contest, one could easily wonder “what is it with color red that makes bulls so angry when they see it”?
Let’s find out.
Contrary to popular belief, the color of the muleta (that’s how that red cape is officially called) plays no significant role whatsoever. The bull would attack no matter the color – red, green, blue, yellow, white, it’s all the same. In fact, bulls, just like all other cattles, are colorblind to red. It’s the movement that irritates bulls and not the color of muleta. (the article continues after the ad)
The popular TV show Mythbusters put this myth to the test and found out that the bulls had the same reaction to white, blue and red capes. Moreover, they discovered that the bulls attacked only when muleta was moved around. Finally, to put this myth to rest once and for all, they added into the ring one person that stood still and was dressed in red, and two cowboys which were not dressed in red and they moved around. As expected, the bull attacked the moving cowboys and left the red-clothing guy alone. Myth busted.
So why are muletas traditionally been red if color plays no significant role whatsoever?
Well, red comes in handy during the final stages of the fight. Because the bull is killed by the bullfighter, the red color helps to cover splatter’s of the animal’s blood. It told you it’s gruesome.