France's highest court Friday rejected a challenge from animal rights groups asking that the practice of bullfighting be banned throughout the country.
The groups argued bullfighting should be banned based on French laws that prohibit cruelty to animals. But the French Constitutional Court cited sections of the country's constitution that allows for exceptions to such laws in order to preserve traditions and heritage.
The president of the Anti-Bullfighting Association, Claire Starozinski said her group will continue its efforts to ban bullfighting, saying French youth "don't want to see a delirious crowd reveling in the death of an animal lying in its blood.''
In France, bullfighting is mostly limited to the southern part of the country.
Residents in the southern city of Nimes applauded the court ruling. One said the decision "shows us some respect in a way, for our history."
The French news agency, AFP, says France holds dozens of bullfights every year, boosting the tourism industry. It also says the fights lead to the deaths of more than 1,000 animals annually.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.