Hello. I am writing as a very concerned donkey owner to ask you to put pressure on your local middle school to reconsider hosting a donkey basketball game on February 21. These games may appear to be funny and enjoyable, but the animals are suffering for the enjoyment of people. Is cruelty to animals for the sake of raising money really something you want to teach the children at your school? There are other much more humane ways to raise money that do not do so at the expense of the animals.
Most people do not realize how much weight a donkey can carry on its back – we see pictures of the “beasts of burden” in other countries and it desensitizes us to what is safe and right. Donkey expert, Vicki Abbott, says, “The maximum safe loadweight is 25% of a mature donkey’s own bodyweight. Mature is when they have a full mouth of adult teeth, until they do have all of their adult teeth, they are physically immature and should not carry any loadweight except their own body. So let’s say the donkey is a 7 year old 48” gelding. His bodyweight in good condition would be about 500 pounds, making his maximum loadweight 125 pounds, but say he is a pudgy little fellow who tips the scales at 540 pounds. You would need to reduce his loadweight by the 40 pounds of blubber his frame is already burdened to carry, leaving his loadweight capacity at 85 pounds. That 85 pounds has to include the weight of the pack saddle and pack, or the weight of the saddle and rider.”
Consider that most people riding these donkeys do NOT weigh 85 – 125 lbs. Therefore the weight they are putting on the donkey’s back and joints is causing damage that is irreparable, regardless of what the donkey owners tell you. They are making money off your use of the donkeys.
Donkeys are gentle, quiet and stoic creatures. They do not show their pain outwardly (with my own donkeys, I have to be especially vigilant to identify when they are ill or sore because even though I know them well, they will hide pain from me). In addition, donkeys live for many years (the average age in First World countries is 30 – 50 years) and the emotional scars of being thrown into a strange loud environment, pushed, pulled and smacked around and carrying strangers on their backs last a very long time. I have dealt with rescued donkeys and I can guarantee you their trust in humans is very difficult to get back after being mistreated in such a way.
I ask you to please push the school to reconsider the donkey basketball game. If they wish to use donkeys in your fundraising, please look into humane donkey events like agility competitions, coon jumping competitions or pack burro racing instead of something so inhumane.
Thank you for your consideration.