The Donkey Sanctuary has been strongly campaigning to end the use of a donkey in the Peropalo festival in Villanueva de la Vera, Spain since 1986. This tradition centres around a donkey being taken through the narrow village streets being ridden and led through drunk crowds who also fire shotguns and bang drums next to the animal.
Staff from The Donkey Sanctuary’s Spanish Sanctuary, El Refugio del Burrito attended the event and also met with local officials to once again demand improved conditions for the donkey.
Veronica Sanchez, Country Manager at The Donkey Sanctuary in Spain, has sent this report:
"On 3rd March 2014, we held meetings with the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, the two workers in charge of the donkey during the year and the President of the Association that oversee the protection of the donkey, a position created by people from Villanueva de la Vera to address public welfare concerns. We discussed the walk and the proposals that we have been making for several years to change the walk and minimize the stress of the donkey during the walk.
They all, with the exception of the President of the Association, agreed that things needed to change and that the donkey suffers during the walk. They also agreed that it is not fair that this happens just for some drunk people to have fun and were advised that the two men that take care of the donkey during the year couldn´t even attend the walk because of their worry for the suffering for the donkey.
The Mayor and Deputy Mayor also admitted that it was very difficult to stop using a donkey for the parade but that slight changes can be made, like having the guns and drums on the back of the crowd and far from the donkey.
We believe that this could be a good point to start changing things and were surprised to hear what they think about the walk and the use of a donkey.
The President of the Association for the protection of the donkey, ironically, was against making even slight changes and heated discussions followed this.
The donkey was wearing a head collar provided by us since the one they used last year was completely ruined and mended with rope, and he was conducted by two members of the Association for the protection of the donkey that were trying to keep people away from him, with no success, since the crowd of people was enormous and most of them were drunk, as is usual during the event.
After attending the event and unfortunately having to see the donkey collapse three times due to the crowd surging around him leaving him almost no air to breathe, I believe the only way of stopping this unnecessary suffering is to stop using a donkey."