Wednesday, April 22, 2009

They'll Never Be Your Beast of Burden

Our first reaction upon seeing the headline "Mexico's Beloved Burros Being Put Out to Pasture," was to think, "You treacherous pendejos! A palace coup as soon as el jefe goes out of town for a few days!" So we picked up the phone and had a couple of goons sent over to the office to teach the interns a lesson (by which we mean break their thumbs). Turns out, it was all something of a misunderstanding, though to compensate the interns for their broken digits would be an intolerable display of weakness on the part of el jefe, and would make the office all but ungovernable upon our return. Anyway, what the story really was about was:

This shelter for unwanted donkeys would have once seemed a laughable idea in Mexico, where the hard-working burro is practically a national symbol. These beasts of burden carried settlers over the Sierra Madre, hauled gold from mines and pulled plows through Mexican fields for centuries.

But Mexico's donkeys are quickly being replaced by pickup trucks and tractors even in the poorest areas, prompting efforts to save unwanted animals and remind Mexicans how much their country owes to burros.

"People love them, but there's not as much work for them anymore," said Luis Huerta, a member of the Donkey Sanctuary of Mexico, a group of veterinarians who help the Burroland shelter.

Are you crying as hard as we are right now? Because we know what it is to have outlived your professional usefulness and been bypassed by technology, and left to seek sanctuary in the Mexican wilderness, okay? Okay?

"They're not even worth 500 pesos ($38) these days," said German Flores, manager of Burroland. "The people who have burros are peasants over age 60 who still value the animal's work. The newer generations prefer a pickup or a tractor to a burro."

The animal's fate has inspired some efforts to save them. Donkey Sanctuary has begun sending a mobile veterinary clinic around Mexico to treat donkeys for free because farmers no longer want to spend money caring for them.

...The shelter's residents have colorful histories. Roberto used to pull a cart for a junk collector in Mexico City until a bus hit him head-on, breaking both front legs. Apache, a white burro with brown spots, was rescued from a forest fire.

Well, we're certainly not crying any less right now. The article goes on to explain how most of the Misfit Unloved Burros wind up at the 5l@ughterh0u5e [Ed note: we banished this word in 2007 because it tends to attract certain overly-eager commentors] but the lucky ones wind up at this modest shelter about 150 miles from Querétaro, which supports itself by doubling as "Burroland," which, good intentions aside, is possibly the most pathetic theme park in all the Americas.

The place is not exactly scenic: The donkeys wander among rusting 1940s-era cars scattered around the dirt lot.

Visitors are given donkey ears and tails to wear as they visit a small museum, complete with papier-mache burros.

There are puppet shows and burro rides. Children can pose for pictures with staff members dressed like the donkey from "Shrek" or Eeyore from "Winnie the Pooh." Admission is free.

There are plans to add a snack bar, so we'll probably wait a bit before making the trip ourselves. Hopefully the long, ugly court battle we're planning to wage over the ownership of the word "Burroland" will be over by then.

[Gracias to Richard for sending this along...]


Anonymous said...

so hey, Burro's mom - did HR 503 and S. 311 ultimately pass? are horses safer now in the US and Mexico?
does environmental defense work with the groups too? it would be nice if somebody like robert redford would speak out and draw more attention to the issue (I was reading the link to why "slaughter" is no longer used on BHall blog, since 2007 apparently)

Anonymous said...

whoa! donkey ears and tails to wear and paper mache burros in a small museum!! yay! I want to go there! hope they have a gift shop too! and lots of lovely burros to pet, what a great place!

Anonymous said...

If someone were to send a donation where would they send it to?

Burro Hall said...

Our lawsuit is already being bankrolled by some powerful interests we'd rather not name, Elena, but thanks for the offer.

Anonymous said...

It's still on the table. The US has shut down the slaughter houses but the poor horses are still being shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.


Anonymous said...

And the poor cows and pigs that are being slaughtered for your dinner?

Burro Hall said...

They'll just have to hire their own lobbyists, now won't they?