The Animal Legal Defense Fund Puts a Stop to Cruel “Donkeyball”

Posted on June 1, 2016

For Immediate Release


Natalia Lima, Animal Legal Defense Fund,, (201) 679-7088

donkeyball-public-domain-article-image-230ALBANY, NY – Thanks to a forward thinking New York state law and the Animal Legal Defense Fund—the leading legal advocacy organization for animals—the Margaretville Central School District declined to plan an annual fundraiser based on the cruel activity called donkey basketball.

The district’s annual donkey basketball fundraiser has long been the center of controversy, but after the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed notice of its intent to file a lawsuit, organizers cancelled this year’s event. The lawsuit seized upon a portion of the New York Education Code that requires schools to instruct students in the “humane treatment and protection of animals and the importance of the part they play in the economy of nature as well as the necessity of controlling the proliferation of animals which are subsequently abandoned and caused to suffer extreme cruelty.” Many states have similar laws, but New York’s is actually enforceable, containing a provision that allows citizens to sue wrongdoers.

The game involves players riding donkeys, and dragging them by ropes to reach the ball while “referees” follow the donkeys, toting sticks, batons, and other implements used to scare the donkeys into being more active. Not surprisingly, the donkeys are often visibly confused and frightened, bucking and kicking.

“New York recognizes the importance of humane education, and scaring and forcing donkeys to engage unnatural behavior for entertainment is the absolute opposite of being humane,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The state should embrace its humane education law, which could be a model for the rest of the country.”

The sport has its origins in the 1930s and is practiced rarely today due to recognition of animal cruelty. Now that Margaretville Central School District seems to have abandoned the outdated and distasteful event, so-called “donkeyball” is one step closer to being relegated to history.

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