Our Spanish team - El Refugio del Burrito - were dismayed to witness the abuse of a donkey today (5 March 2019) at the annual Peropalo festival, despite promises made by regional government.
Team members were left appalled after Bernabe, who had been used at the festival in Villanueva de la Vera last year, was subjected to an hour-long barrage of abuse and cruelty. Hundreds of people, many intoxicated by alcohol, clambered around and over Bernabe throughout the procession. The donkey appeared thinner and his hooves were in even worse condition than when we saw him last year.
In 2018 we called for an end to the use of a donkey in the Peropalo festival, asking our supporters to sign a petition, which we delivered to the regional authority, Junta de Extremadura, during 2018. We thank every single one of the 24,229 supporters who added their voice to our own, helping to make our call for change to be heard.
As a result of this, we were promised that a protective human barrier would protect the donkey used in this year's festival - but are dismayed that our collective actions have not effected change, and that no protective barrier was used.
We will be keeping a close eye on Bernabe's health, and our collection of evidence will be used to file a report to the government that animal cruelty occurred.
Veronica Sanchez, director at El Refugio del Burrito, says: “We are extremely frustrated by the broken promises from the Town Hall, but we will not let it thwart our campaign to do the right thing for donkeys like Bernabe.
“We are planning to prosecute the organisers this year and we are testing a blood sample from after this year’s event which we hope will add weight to that argument."
Stay up to date with the latest developments in this case by following our news.
Update 8 March 2019
Video evidence has been brought forward of Bernabe's abuse at Peropalo festival on 5 March 2019. In the footage,drunk crowds are seen surrounding the donkey, leering and shouting. At several points, gun shots are fired dangerously close to the donkey's head.
Rosa Chaparro, communications manager at our Spanish sanctuary (El Refugio Del Burrito), witnessed Bernabe's ordeal.
“There were glasses around, bottles around, the guns were very very close to him," she recalls. In spite of the distress that Bernabe was enduring, he remained surprisingly calm and did not retaliate during the festival - something that, Rosa believes, lead to this year's event lasting longer than usual.
"They really abused the good behaviour of the donkey. I feel very frustrated because I have the feeling that we are stepping back instead of forward. They are taking even more advantage than before and continue the party even longer. We have to report publicly that something has to change and we hope that this is the last year that they take the donkey in the party."
El Refugio del Burrito's director, Veronica Sanchez, reflects on our next steps towards preventing further suffering at Peropalo:
“Poor Bernabe, and the donkeys before him, do not deserve to be treated with such disrespect and it is deplorable to inflict such abuse and cruelty on an animal in the name of any tradition.
“We will double down our efforts to implore the regional government to introduce legislation which removes animals from this terrifying situation."
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