Donkey basketball fundraiser in Anacortes draws ire, called off


Stories from the old west often tell of prospectors that refused to go into town to exchange their gold for supplies because they didn’t want to leave their best friend – their donkey. Given the chance, they are pure love. Why then do people try to change them into clowns to be laughed at or find joy when they buck and fight. Another form of cruelty named donkey basketball is no better than the “sport” of tripping. Speak up, let them know your opinion. – Jerry

From: The Seattle Times
By: Kera Wanielista

donkey_basketball1ANACORTES — A longstanding Anacortes Eagles No. 249 fundraising tradition has officially been canceled, Anacortes School District Superintendent Mark Wenzel said Thursday.

The event, which sees donkey riders facing off against each other in a basketball game, was scheduled to take place at Anacortes Middle School’s gym on Saturday.

Due to concerns and an uproar of negative feedback, the event, put on by Donkey Sports Inc., was canceled, Wenzel said.

The proposed event drew feedback and criticism at the local, state, national and even international level, Wenzel said. The district had been “inundated” with phone calls and emails, some from as far away as Australia.

“I think, regardless of where folks stand on this issue, the controversy isn’t good for Anacortes,” Wenzel said. “It took our focus away from student learning this week; we were inundated with emails and phone calls. So I think if we can avoid more controversy by not having a protest on the news on Saturday, it’s probably good for the community.”

Mike Gourley, trustee with the Anacortes Eagles No. 249, confirmed the event was canceled.

“And that kind of sucks,” Gourley said. “I used to ride for eight years, and the only people that got hurt was us, not the donkeys.”

He said at least 1,000 tickets had already been sold for the event. Gourley said people who have purchased tickets can attend one of three magic shows the organization will hold at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Eagles Lodge.

Donkey BasketballGourley said the event was held as a fundraiser for the local food bank.

One of the most vocal organizations against the donkey basketball game came from Pasado’s Safe Haven, an animal shelter in the east Snohomish County city of Sultan. Kim Koon, Pasado’s director of investigation, said the group had proposed an alternate fundraising solution to Wenzel and the school district before the announcement of the event’s cancellation.

Koon said Pasado’s offered that, if the district canceled the event, Pasado’s and its supporters would come en masse to support the district and help raise funds for the food bank in other ways.

“We would bring all of our support monetarily, donation-wise, and just people’s attention to the cause at hand,” Koon said. “Which is supposedly the food bank. So we said, ‘Why don’t we use all of this support and donations to support the food bank?’ ”

Koon said she had no doubt that Pasado’s supporters would be able to raise as much if not more money than the event usually brings in.

“The donkeys would be happy, the superintendent would be happy and I think the Eagles would be happy,” Koon said.

Wenzel said the district neither endorsed nor opposed the event. It was merely renting out its facilities to a community organization. He said the facility is rented out on an hourly basis and that the funds are pretty minimal.

“Our message all along has been this has been a rental from the school district. We were not sponsoring this event,” Wenzel said. “As a school district, we believe that our facilities are community facilities.”

Koon said Pasado’s was happy with the event’s cancellation, and they do intend to show support for the organizations involved.

“Pasado’s is still grateful and is still going to execute our supporters to promote and support the food bank,” Koon said. “We will still be bringing support to the food bank this Saturday.”

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AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
  • Daniel Cordero

    This is the same as the rapa das bestas albeit way more white-collar. Cancelling the event was a wise decision. Folks have alredy plenty of ways to have fun and imho, this is just a stupid pseudo-tradition.

    January 31, 2014
  • Mary Anne Gardner

    I’ve never like the Donkey Ballgames and think it’s wonderful the game was called off!!!

    January 31, 2014
  • Another fine example of sanctioned Animal abuse under the veil of Charity’. This is revolting and the fact about the Donkeys (large, standard, or small) is that with one swift kick they are able to render a fully grown man a cripple for life. People don’t understand how tolerant these lovely Equidaes truly are!

    January 31, 2014
  • Sue

    The comments section in the newspaper link was closed. There were already four comments, all of which complained that the event should NOT have been cancelled.

    January 31, 2014
  • Margaret

    Learned to be “entertained” by the family animals. Here’s a for instance. My sisters dog loves his chew toys. But I’m the only person he’ll give them too. Why? Because I don’t mind the slobber, I’ll pick it up the toy and make a huge deal about looking it over and telling the dog he’s doing a great job chewing. And then hand the chew toy back. This game can go on for hours non stop.

    The whole focus of “entertainment” has changed. I use to go to SeaWorld (this was YEARS ago)when it was about teaching and learning about the animals. After Anheuser-Busch took over the emphasis became about people wanting to be entertained like they are at Disneyland. That’s when a lot of things changed.

    I chose at the time to go to SeaWorld to learn and explore what they knew about animals and were learning over time. (this was at San Diego which was a whole lot different than Orlando).

    Now it seems like how can exploit these animals for our amusement. I’d much rather have donkeys come and start braying at me because THEY CHOOSE TO–not because they have to. I’d much rather have horses learn funny tricks and them cause there reward is the applause–not because they were forced.

    People should over and watch Lukas the World’s Smartest Horse. Karen has taught Lukas all sorts of wonderful liberty WITHOUT a whip. And today all you have to do is bring out a camera and he’ll mug it up for you! He knows!

    Watch a therapy animal. My assistant has one. I swear I don’t know who therapies whom more. I get my dog therapy and the dog gets lots of attention. I think it’s a communal kind of relationship. Both of us benefit.

    January 31, 2014