The government of the Mexican Gulf city of Veracruz has banned bullfighting and all other shows featuring animals, officials said Wednesday.

Veracruz, a port city about 300 kilometers (186 miles) east of Mexico City, joined the cities of Xalapa, Fortin de las Flores, Teocelo and Boca de Rio, all located in Veracruz state, in banning bullfighting events.

Officials changed the Animal Welfare Code last week to ban bullfights, dog fights and cockfights, Veracruz Mayor Carolina Gudiño Corro told the press.

"We want to thank and congratulate ... the members of the different animal protection groups in the city of Veracruz who participated extensively in drafting the new city regulations on the care and protection of animals," the mayor said.

The new regulations were enacted to prevent abuse of pets and other animals by owners and the public, and create a culture of caring for animals, Gudiño Corro said.

Individuals violating the new regulations will receive a written warning for the first offense and will be subject to fines of up to 6,700 pesos ($521) for subsequent offenses, Union Pro Animal president Maria Nieves Milchorena said.

Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz state, Fortin de las Flores, Teocelo and Boca de Rio changed their city codes in the past year, banning all shows featuring animals, such as traditional circuses, cockfights and bullfights.

The new regulations will end the traditional festivals that offered cockfights, bullfights and other similar entertainment.

Sonora became the first state in Mexico last month to approve a law banning animal abuse, but lawmakers excluded cockfights.

The Mexican Green Party was the moving force behind the law, which punishes violators with fines and jail time.

The party is seeking a national ban on bullfights.

Supporters and opponents of bullfighting have been waging a pitched battle in Mexico City, where a Legislative Assembly committee threw its support behind an effort to ban bullfights in 2012.

The measure, however, must still be debated in the full assembly.

About 9,000 bulls are slaughtered every year at rings in Mexico, where bullfighting dates back to the 16th century, animal rights groups say.

Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador are the Latin American countries where bullfighting is most deeply rooted.

Chile, for its part, banned bullfighting shortly after it gained its independence from Spain in 1818, but rodeos, another target of animal rights activists, are popular in the South American country.

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