Tijuana's famed zonkeys — donkeys painted to look like zebras — would be permanently retired and replaced by fiberglass replicas if an international animal-rights organization gets its way.
In recent years, the zonkeys have fallen on hard times as tourism along Avenida Revolución has dwindled dramatically, but a group called Animal Equality now wants to give them a final push into extinction, according to the Baja California daily El Mexicano.
The zonkeys, according to a flyer being distributed by Animal Equality, are being used "to take a photograph marked by the suffering and exploitation of a sentient being."
Alfonso Verdugo, a spokesman for Animal Equality, told the newspaper there was no reason to continue exploiting the animals as props for photos. Instead, he said, the animals should be replaced by fiberglass replicas made and painted by local artisans that photographers can use for the same purpose.
The proposal, said Verdugo, would permit tourists to continue capturing poses that have become emblematic of Tijuana, continue to provide an income to photographers who currently make their living with the zonkeys, and create new job opportunities for artists.
So far, Verdugo told the newspaper, Animal Equality has collected just under 2000 signatures on petitions in support of the idea. He said he would present the petitions and offer his proposal to city leaders this month.