2018-04-08 11:32:47 UTC
Brazil Debates Fate of Millions of Idled Donkeys
APODI, Brazil-The dependable donkey once did it all here in northeast
Brazil, from hauling in the harvest to carrying children to remote
schoolhouses. Now so many of these ubiquitous beasts of burden populate this
vast swath of rural Brazil that they have become a problem-and for some, an
Modernity and the skyrocketing sale of motorcycles have demoted the burro
from its long-held status. Once cherished here for their hardy
load-carrying, donkeys are increasingly seen as a nuisance as they saunter
into traffic or munch greenery in people's yards.
"Today, a donkey is born and nobody wants it," lamented Eribaldo Nobre, 53,
whose family used donkeys to lug fresh water home when he was a child.
"Progress made this animal worthless."
Enter China, where soaring demand for protein has put donkey meat on the
menu. But Chinese consumers hanker after more than just the meat. They also
have a growing craving for ejiao, a gelatinous substance made from boiled
donkey hides, which is said to boost health, reverse aging and serve as an
Brazil, with 1 million donkeys and world-class slaughterhouses and
meatpacking plants, is now looking to cash in. The plans to do so have
touched off an emotional struggle between those who see donkeys as animals
to exploit, even to consume, and those who want to protect what they see as
a steadfast emblem of Brazilian rural life.