The TJ zonkey known as Monica
  • The TJ zonkey known as Monica
  • photo from El Sol de Tijuana
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Only real estate — not living beings — can be considered part of Tijuana’s cultural heritage, a federal judge has ruled, revoking an earlier decision by the Cultural Heritage Council of Baja California declaring zonkeys to be part of the city’s cultural patrimony.

Zonkeys — donkeys painted to look like zebras — have become a widely recognized symbol of downtown Tijuana. They were declared part of the city’s cultural heritage three years ago.

The ruling came from a judge of the second federal district court, according to a September 13 story in El Sol de Tijuana. The story did not identify the judge.

The decision was issued after a group of animal-rights attorneys sought an injunction prohibiting the designation on the grounds that the law recognizes only real estate as eligible for the designation — not living beings or a species of animal, El Sol reported.

Luis Hernández, the attorney who brought the case, told the newspaper that the zonkeys can still be used along Avenida Revolución but may not receive any resources from the state as a consequence of a cultural heritage designation.

Hernández said animal-rights activists are not opposed to using zonkeys as a symbol of the city, but prefer that living animals not be used. Instead, he suggested, a representation of a zonkey could be used instead and placed in commercial plazas or used at cultural events.

Animal-rights activists made the same suggestion several years ago, arguing that the zonkeys should be replaced by fiberglass replicas because using live donkeys is a form of animal abuse.

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