A new bill introduced by Virginia Representative Don Beyer (D-Va.) to US Congress aims to prohibit sales or transport of ejiao — the donkey-skin gelatin found in many snacks, face creams, Chinese folk remedies, and energy drinks.
The US is the world’s third-largest importer of ejiao, but The Ejiao Act (HR 5203) would prohibit sales of the product or transport in either interstate or foreign commerce. The US brings in $12 million in annual imports of ejiao each year.
A bill must be passed by both the House and Senate in identical form and then be signed by the President to become law.
The text of the act noted that domestic Chinese and international demand for donkey skins is about eight to 10 million skins per year but the annual supply in China is less than 1.8 million. “Such demand has led to the slaughter of massive numbers of donkeys across the globe, decimating donkey populations, most notably in Africa and Latin America.”
It noted that donkeys are regularly stolen from families who depend on them for their livelihood.
“A recent report by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization said that 159,631 donkeys were slaughtered for their skins, 8.1 percent of the population, in 2018. Today, up to 1000 donkeys a day can be slaughtered in Kenya alone, more than 300,000 a year. The report goes on to suggest that donkeys in Kenya could vanish by 2023.”
The Ejiao Act has won the support of animal advocacy group PETA, which exposed cruelty in the ejiao industry with an undercover video showing workers using sledgehammers to kill donkeys, some as young as 5 months old.
“Donkeys in Africa, Asia, and South America, some just babies, are being stolen or sold and then bludgeoned to death and their skin boiled for candy, snacks, and beauty products,” said PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo.
“PETA urges everyone who knows how gentle and trusting donkeys are to ask their representatives to cosponsor HR 5203.”
A 2019 PETA video exposé revealed abuse inside Kenya’s donkey slaughter industry, which exists to meet the demand for ejiao in China. Workers are seen violently beating frightened and gentle animals who are crammed together so tightly that they could barely move. Donkeys are packed onto trucks and endure grueling journeys to slaughterhouses from as far away as neighboring countries, during which they aren’t given any water or food.