One year more, a donkey has been forced to walk amid the hustle and clamor at Villanueva de la Vera, Cáceres (Spain).
In line with tradition, a young man rides a donkey through narrow streets with stone pavement while the crowd jostled the animal. For the second consecutive year, a donkey named Celipa has been chosen to be ridden. A specialized team from El Refugio del Burrito (RDB) has attended the event to assist the animal.
On February 28, Celipa was removed from the peaceful paddock where she lives and taken to the town. The time came for the young rider to get on the donkey while the crowd shouted and cheered on. Frightened by the hubbub and the gunsmiths’ air-shots, the animal refused to walk. She suffered from stress and fell down around ten times, what made the tour stretched on for one and a half hour.
Neither a veterinary staff from the Agriculture Department nor members of Seprona (Spanish Police for Animals and Environment) attended the act, despite El Refugio del Burrito had asked for their presence.
Celipa, who is living free and peacefully the rest of the year far away of civilation, is not sensitized to noises, paves or crowds. Because of their herbivorous condition, donkeys can also interpret this hubbub as a predator’s attack. They suffer from hormonal disorder that drive them to either escape or go into shock. “We pity the donkey, but it is a tradition”, people from the village said. Numerous neighbors felt sorry about the animal’s suffering.
It is very difficult that a donkey can get used to those sort of events without any psychological or physical distress. One year more, we beg the local authorities to stop using a donkey as part of the carnival’s activities.
We also appreciate the cooperation of both the local government and the organizers. Year by year, they have tried to improve the tour conditions in order to minimize the donkey’s suffering. Furthermore, they have allowed our veterinary team to examine the animal before and after the festivity.