Donkey Basketball At Local H.S. Stirs Controversy

By Lindsey Seavert, WCCO-TV

FRIDLEY, Minn. (WCCO) — Animal rights groups protested a donkey basketball game in Fridley Tuesday night, saying the practice of riding donkeys while playing basketball is inhumane and cruel.

Parent Jim Felton came up with the idea of bringing donkey basketball to Fridley as part of a fundraiser for the senior class of 2011’s all night party. He remembered donkey basketball from his high school days, and said it stood out from usual fundraisers.

“Everything you do has to raise funds in some way whether it is bake sales, cookie sales, art sales and we were looking for something a little bit new,” said Felton.

According to Felton, the committee that brought the donkey basketball game to the high school gym is not affiliated with the school district.

He also realized bringing donkey basketball would also bring the risk of protestors, who believe the practice is harmful.

As people filed into the game, protestors held signs and passed out literature. Dallas Rising, of the Animal Rights Coalition, called the treatment of the donkeys a serious concern.

“This business covers the whole Midwest, and donkeys are deprived of food and water before the game so that they don’t have accidents on the court, which is unsightly for onlookers,” said Rising.

Rising also says the weight of people can be harmful to the donkeys, which are often kicked and whipped during the games.

CJ Cordell owns the donkeys and runs Dairyland Donkey Ball from his Chippewa Falls, Wis. farm, which he says is a third-generation family business. He says his animals are well-fed. When it comes to riders, he implements a weight limit of 225 pounds.

“We don’t think it’s inhumane, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it. Our donkeys are very well cared for. You can see many are quite plump for donkeys,” said Cordell, who says the audiences keep him honest.

Cordell adds that anyone who accidently hits a donkey will have to get off the donkey and kiss it during the game.

Felton said he examined the practice closely.

“We feel good the animals are not being mistreated during the game and outside events being treated very well,” said Felton.

Still, Dallas Rising says the Animal Rights Coalition has received more than 500 e-mails from concerned citizens, and says while her organization unsuccessfully tried to stop this game, they hope they’ve created awareness.

“In the future, we hope Fridley will think twice before doing this again,” said Rising.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) calls it cruelty on the court, saying it sends kids the message it is okay to abuse animals. It encourages people to protest the use of live animals during fundraisers.

  • Tim D


    People eating tasty animals

  • Linda

    Why people feel the need to use and abuse animals for entertainment is beyond me.

  • Jessica

    It’s really unfortunate that Fridley High School decided to proceed with the event, despite concern from so many citizens. Schools from coast to coast have stopped hosting these cruel donkey basketball fundraisers because they want to help nurture kind kids, not bullies.

    There are plenty of unique & entertaining fundraising activities that don’t use & abuse animals in the process. Schools & community organizers should be teaching our youth the values of compassion & kindness – NOT that animals are ours to use as we see fit.

    It’s possible that Mr. Cordell doesn’t abuse “his” donkeys outright (i.e. whipping or kicking) – but that doesn’t mean that donkey basketball is humane. I am very disappointed in Fridley High School for being so irresponsible. Shame on them!

  • Paul

    Looking at pics and videos of these events, I am certain that the animals find them quite stressful. There are so many non-cruel ways to raise funds; I hope Fridley High (and all schools) will make more compassionate choices in the future.

  • jdhols

    Have you people actually watched a donkey basketball game? I think its the riders who get more abuse than the donkeys.

  • Chris

    It’s cruelty to humans that we are exposed to the opinions expressed by PETA. The real donkeys in this story are the protesters.

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