Donkey Basketball Fundraisers: Disturbing and Inhumane
It’s hard to believe that something as absurd as “donkey basketball” still exists in this day and age. 🤦
Donkeys are hauled around the country in cramped, stuffy trailers and taken to schools, where they’re kicked, shoved, and shouted at while rowdy students, teachers, and others ride on their backs and play a game of basketball in front of screaming crowds.
We know that every school needs to fundraise, but don’t let yours fall for this. Students should know why donkey basketball has no place in a school—or anywhere else. Here’s everything that you need to know about these cruel events and why your school should avoid them:
While donkeys used in donkey basketball events have some legal protections under the federal Animal Welfare Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is inconsistent in enforcing the law—a sad fact that exhibitors routinely take advantage of. A handful of companies rent out donkeys for these games as if they’re sports equipment, loading and unloading them in and out of cramped, stuffy trailers and hauling them around the country from one event to the next, inevitably denying them the space and exercise that they need in order to thrive.
Donkeys are patient, kind, intelligent animals. They can recognize the faces of animals they haven’t seen for years, and they feel pain and fear just as any other animal does. It’s not difficult to figure out that donkeys don’t enjoy these so-called “games,” which are surely terrifying and confusing for them. The lights, noise, and commotion of these events are extremely stressful for them.
In addition to the stress of being hauled around the country to loud events, these gentle animals also must endure the additional trauma of being kicked, shoved, and shouted at during the often-chaotic games. They’re forced to bear the weight of riders whom they can’t safely or comfortably carry. Donkeys can only safely carry up to 30 percent of their bodyweight. As the average donkey weighs about 350 pounds, they can only safely carry about 105 pounds—which is less than most full-grown adults or even growing teenagers weigh. Carrying heavy loads can lead to stress and pain in the animals’ backs.
You may notice donkeys resisting movement in some of these photos as players yank at or push them—but this isn’t because they’re being stubborn. Donkeys are naturally cautious animals, and they’re likely feeling fearful. If they’re highly stressed or frightened, their instinct isn’t to run away, as it is for some animals—instead, they sometimes lie down or plant their feet and refuse to move while they assess their surroundings.
Not surprisingly, donkeys who are regularly subjected to such stress often develop unpredictable temperaments and may lash out to protect themselves, which puts both riders and bystanders at risk. Players have fallen off of and been kicked by frightened animals and have broken legs, arms, and wrists—and some have even sustained concussions after being slammed to the floor. We suspect that many more incidents have gone unreported.
Here’s what to do if your school is planning or considering a donkey basketball game:
- Speak up. Learn the facts about why donkey basketball is cruel and speak with or write a letter to your principal, your superintendent, and/or your school’s PTA. Be sure to prepare and include suggestions for humane fundraising options that your school can plan instead.
- Gather support. After sharing information about the cruelty inherent in donkey basketball games with students and staff, gather signatures on a petition to replace the game with a fun animal-free fundraiser.
- Still need help? Contact peta2 at [email protected] to report any upcoming games. We want to support you in making sure that your school plans kind fundraisers, and we can contact its administration with more information.
There are countless fun, community-oriented fundraising ideas available to replace live-animal events. Schools have all sorts of options that can help them raise the money that they need while also setting a positive example and not exploiting animals—check out some of the many creative options here. 💗