"Here it's a lesser crime to steal a Mercedes Benz than a donkey."
That's what German Sauza, an accountant and donkey advocate has to say about Otumba, a town in central Mexico that is home to the most donkeys in all of Mexico.
In Otumba, donkeys are an essential part of working life. And every year the town holds a festival to celebrate its donkeys. Thousands of people attend.
Donkey polo, donkey imitations, even naming a Miss ‘Burro’ are all a part of the festivities. But the undisputed highlight is the donkey race. Townspeople train their donkeys for months to make sure they hit the track in peak condition along with the young boys who serve as jockeys. It’s a fiercely contested ride. And like at this year's race, sore losers and heated scenes at the end of the race are not uncommon.
“What would the world be without donkeys?”
Otumba’s fame goes back centuries to when traders bought donkeys here to carry their goods on the route between Mexico City and the port of Veracruz. Otumba’s donkeys gained a reputation as the strongest in Mexico.
But with the mechanical age the donkey population has shriveled in Mexico. Even in Otumba the donkey was dying out according to Mr. Suaza who founded “Burrolandia” a donkey rescue center and farm in the center of town.
"We protect the species," he says. He currently has over 22 donkey guests and is a major attraction and source of work in the town. "Here they can live."
The people of Otumba are so attached to their donkeys that when thieves tried to steal two of them, they were almost lynched by the population. The donkey festival is a less violent way of showing the affection they have towards their favorite animal.