Brazil Debates Fate of Millions of Idled Donkeys

by R.T. Fitch

Straight from the Horse's Heart

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 opportunity.

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…

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