eBay says it will ban donkey skin products after charity intervenes

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International online auction site eBay says it will pull from its shelves products made from donkey skins after a plea from British based charity The Donkey Sanctuary.

At the time of writing there were still several supplements and food items containing ejiao, which contains gelatin from donkey skin and is alleged to offer anti-ageing properties, available on the site.

It was reported last week that TK Maxx removed Elizavecca Donkey Creamy Cleansing Melting Cream off its shelves after equine charity Brooke pointed out the welfare issues behind donkey products.

The Donkey Sanctuary CEO Mike Baker wrote to eBay’s President on December 8, and the site responded immediately to say it would stop selling ejiao following the charity’s intervention.

Many products including supplements and skin care items are made with ejiao as an ingredient.
Many products including supplements and skin care items are made with ejiao as an ingredient.

Baker’s letter highlighted the unfolding livelihood crisis, animal welfare disaster and potential consumer health risks associated with the unregulated ‘health’ product, ejiao.

“We’re incredibly grateful to eBay and would like to put on record our sincere thanks to them for their quick response and confirmation that they will no longer be selling ejiao,” Baker said.

The sanctuary has revealed the shocking consequences of the global donkey skin trade that has emerged to meet the demand from the ejiao trade. From Tanzania to Peru, South Africa to Pakistan, donkeys across the world are being stolen and skinned in the night, their carcasses found by distraught owners. For millions of people in some of world’s poorest communities, donkeys are still the main means of livelihood and sustain families by providing them with an income and independence.

The donkey skin trade is unregulated and some of the claims made about the supposed health benefits of ejiao are unverified – one of the principal reasons for eBay prohibiting its sale.

Many donkeys, possibly hundreds of thousands, are not being slaughtered at licenced slaughterhouses, and will be subjected to non-standard slaughter methods which mean their deaths are protracted and horrendously inhumane. This informal and unregulated “bush slaughter” raises further concerns about bio-security and disease risk from the unsanitary and unhygienic environment in which the skins are initially processed.

The Donkey Sanctuary is leading efforts to halt the trade in donkey skins.
The Donkey Sanctuary is leading efforts to halt the trade in donkey skins.

“eBay agree with us that products containing ejiao easily fall under several categories of their prohibited and restricted items, for example, ejiao product listings commonly ‘claim the item is intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in humans’,” Baker said.

“We hope other online retail sites follow eBay’s lead and immediately suspend all sales of products containing ejiao until the manufacturing origin of these products can be clearly and demonstrably shown to have no negative humanitarian and animal welfare consequences.”

The Donkey Sanctuary is leading efforts to halt the trade in donkey skins and has been supported by World Horse Welfare, Brooke and SPANA who joined the charity’s group of global partners in writing to eBay and other online retailers who sell ejiao products. It is optimistic that other online retailing giants will follow the lead that eBay has taken.

Elizavecca Donkey Creamy Cleansing Melting Cream product is still available on US online retailing giant Amazon, which also has several other products, including edibles, containing ejiao.

Donkey skins at the Benetton factory in Dong’e, China in 2016. 
Donkey skins at the Benetton factory in Dong’e, China in 2016. © George Knowles

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