In the final stage, the tercio de muerte (the third of death), the matador comes out with a small red cape (muleta) and a sword. The matador lures the bull into a series of passes called a faena.
The faena ends once the matador gets the bull into a position to stab it between the shoulder blades and through the aorta or heart. This sword thrust is called an estocada.
If all goes well, the bull falls to its knees and dies fairly quickly afterwards. In the coup de grâce a peon uses a dagger to end the bull's suffering. We see one of the bulls shudder in a terrible death rattle... but at least he dies quickly.
Things don't go as well for the poor bull below. He isn't stabbed correctly so begins puking blood and then smashes his head against the ring wall and dies. The matador is booed.
We watch six bulls killed in this ritualized slaughter and each bull carcass is dragged out by a team of mules.
All these photos were taken by me at yesterday's bullfight. The experience left me with a clash of contrasting emotions because bullfights are beautiful and grotesque, skillfully artistic and yet revoltingly barbaric. I found myself fascinated by what I saw despite the cringing I felt. Watching death is an awfully disturbing thing. Would I go again? I'm not sure. Probably not. The experience is still too fresh in my mind - the images of the death rattle and blood spewing will haunt me for some time.