Are donkeys in Mexico an endangered species? Germán Flores thinks they’re coming close to that distinction. In 2006, Flores founded Burrolandia, a sanctuary in the small town of Otumba that is dedicated to saving what some believe is a dwindling population of Mexico’s donkeys.
“The donkey is on the verge of extinction for not having a sustainable function, its association with clumsiness and the poor economic state,” Flores tells Telemundo. “The newer generations do not have an appreciation for the donkey.”
According to reporting from Mexico News Daily, Mexico’s census agency estimates there are only 300,000 donkeys left in the country, which would mean the donkey population fell 1.2 million in the last 30 years.
Not true, says the Veterinary School of the National Autonomous University (UNAM). They estimate the number to be closer to 3.2 million based on a report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Whether donkeys are going the same route as the Dodo and Woolly Mammoth is still up for debate, but that’s not keeping Flores from doing what he can to keep the working animal from disappearing from Mexico. Currently, Burriolandia houses 58 donkeys.
“The donkeys that have arrived here all have stories–some sad and some not so sad,” Raúl Flores, an administrator at Burrolandia, tells Telemundo. “The owners–because of the love they have for them–decide to retire them here with us.”
Along with Burrolandia, the town of Otumba is known for its Feria del Burro (Donkey Fair), which was first held in 1965. Otumba is also known as the “Cradle of the Donkey.”