On January the 28th we succeeded in rescuing Felipe, the donkey that was used in the Peropalo Carnival for the last five years. The City Council of Villanueva de la Vera agreed to give us the donkey, thus recognizing that he is no longer healthy and fit to participate in this parade and giving priority to the animal’s welfare. Felipe suffers from laminitis, a disease that affects his hooves, making it difficult for him to walk and causing him pain. However, another donkey will occupy his place in this year’s Carnival.
The Peropalo Carnival centres around a donkey being taken through the narrow village streets, ridden by a drunkard and led through a crowd who also fire shotguns and bang drums next to the animal. The donkey falls and suffers from stress throughout the show, which lasts for about one hour.
Last year, Felipe fell 8 times during the show and a veterinary report states that suffered from dehydration, muscle injuries, kidney damage and high levels of stress. This qualifies as animal cruelty under article 337 of the Spanish Criminal Code and as an administrative offence according to the Animal Protection Laws of the Region of Extremadura.
Campaigning to abolish this practice
The celebration of the Peropalo Carnival will take place Tuesday the 9th February. We want to avoid that another donkey collapses, is pushed around, is possibly injured and suffers from stress during this show. For this reason we demand adherence to existing laws and we have launched a petition through the online platform Change.org.
El Refugio del Burrito proposed the use of a wooden donkey to the City Council of Villanueva de la Vera and, in case the parade continues as usual, recommended a series of measures to guarantee the donkey’s wellbeing. Furthermore, our Animal Welfare team will travel to Villanueva de la Vera next Tuesday to ensure compliance with existing regulation regarding the use of animals in festivals and to examine the animal.
The Donkey Sanctuary works to abolish this practice since 1987, when a donkey named Blackie Star was rescued at the Peropalo Carnival for the first time. Since then, several signature campaigns have been launched and letters have been sent to the responsible authorities. In 1997, close to 350,000 people requested the Spanish ambassador in London to put an end to this cruel tradition. Yet, the Peropalo Carnival has been held without interruption until now.