Osborne Bull, symbol of Spain, to enter north Africa

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The dark majestic silhouette of the Osborne Bull, which has become a symbol of Spain, is to be installed in the country's disputed north African enclave of Melilla, a move that risks raising tensions with Morocco, Spanish media said Tuesday.

The former advertising hoarding in the shape of a bull, 88 of which are perched high up on hills throughout the Spanish mainland, "will cross the Strait of Gibraltar for the first time and be installed in north Africa," the daily El Mundo said.

Authorities in the tiny autonomous enclave of Melilla decided on Monday to set up one of the 14-metre (50 feet) high bulls.

The silhouette will be "easily visible" in the surrounding area, a spokesman for the local authority, which is controlled by Spain's conservative opposition Popular Party, told the ABC newspaper.

The symbol risks reviving tensions between Madrid and Rabat over Melilla and another disputed Spanish enclave in north Africa, Ceuta.

The Osborne Group alcoholic drinks maker, one of Spain's oldest companies, came up with the giant bulls in 1956 as an advertising ploy. But they are now an integral part of the Spanish landscape.

A 1994 transport ministry edict came close to wiping the symbol off the map following a spate of accidents which the authorities deemed were a result of too many eye-catching adverts placed along national highways.

But the Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that "the bull has moved beyond its initial advertising role and has integrated itself into the countryside."

© 2011 AFP

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