An animal rights lobby has released new video exposé that pulls back the curtain on the cruelty behind the Chinese trade in donkey skins, which come from donkeys killed in Kenya whose hides are boiled down to be used in drinks, sweets, and a much-criticised traditional medicine ingredient called ejiao.
The footage captured by PETA shows donkeys subjected to horrific abuse in government-sanctioned slaughterhouses in Mogotio and Naivasha, where workers are seen violently beating frightened and gentle animals who are crammed together so tightly that they can barely move.
Three new donkey slaughterhouses have opened in Kenya in just the last three years alone catering to the ejiao industry, which annually produces 5,000 tons of products containing the ingredient and uses some four million donkey hides each year, half of which are imported to China from other countries, including Kenya.
Donkeys are packed onto trucks and endure grueling journeys to slaughterhouses from as far away as neighboring countries—and the trip from the border with Ethiopia can take two days, during which the animals aren’t given any water or food. Many collapse, and some die.
While PETA Asia was on site, workers left the bodies of two donkeys, who had died during the long journey, outside the slaughterhouse and dragged another one—who was so injured that she was unable to stand—from the truck, dumped her on the ground, and kicked her.
“Kenya should take action to close slaughterhouses that cash in on China’s desire for ejiao while gentle donkeys pay the price with their lives,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA calls on kind people around the world to reject gelatin made from the skins of terrified donkeys.”
Pakistan and numerous African countries—including Botswana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda—have banned Chinese-funded slaughterhouses or implemented policies to stop the export of donkey skins to China. In addition, after appeals from PETA, companies such as eBay and Walmart-owned Jet.com agreed to stop selling items containing ejiao.
In 2017, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat or abuse in any other way”—revealed that donkeys in China, some as young as 5 months old, are bashed in the head with a sledgehammer and their throats are slit so that their skin can be boiled down for ejiao.