Spain's biggest city overrun by sheep
Spain's biggest city overrun by sheep Shepherds lead their sheep through the center of Madrid, Spain (AP photos)
Spain's biggest city overrun by sheep
Lexile: 730L

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Shepherds guided a flock of 2,000 sheep through Madrid's streets on Sunday. It was a demonstration in defense of ancient grazing, droving and migration rights. They are threatened by urban sprawl and modern agricultural practices.

Tourists and city-dwellers were surprised to see the capital's traffic cut to permit the parade. The herd was accompanied by musicians and dancers. They were dressed in regional costumes. Rural workers have worn them for centuries.

Shepherds halted at the old town hall. That was so the chief herdsman could hand authorities 10 maravedies. Those are copper coins first minted in the 11th century. The coins were payment for the crossing.

They then continued past Puerta del Sol. It is Madrid's equivalent of New York's Times Square.

Children shrieked with joy. The sheep went from a trot to a gallop. They passed a hamburger restaurant and jewelry store in the city's downtown quarter.

Since medieval times, shepherds have had the right to use droving paths. Some routes have been used annually for over 800 years. Madrid sprawls across one dating back to 1372.

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