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Donkey Derogatory Amazon Pulls Ejiao from California Shelves


Amazon has opted to cease the sale of donkey-skin gelatin, known as ejiao, to California residents following a settlement with a nonprofit organization that lodged a complaint. Wired reported on Wednesday that the Center for Contemporary Equine Studies, dedicated to horse welfare, had filed a complaint in February alleging that the sale of ejiao on Amazon violated California’s animal welfare laws safeguarding horses. Although Amazon denied any wrongdoing and contested the allegations, it agreed to stop selling ejiao in California.

The complaint was based on the argument that donkey products should be categorized as horsemeat under California’s Prohibition of Horse Slaughter and Sale of Horsemeat for Human Consumption Act. Ejiao is a traditional Chinese medicine made from soaked and stewed donkey hides, with purported benefits for conditions such as blood circulation, insomnia, and dry cough. Despite claims by enthusiasts, scientific research supporting these health benefits is limited, with only one study—funded by an ejiao maker—suggesting potential success in treating anemia.

Animal Welfare Institute

The Animal Welfare Institute highlights that the popularity of ejiao is causing significant harm to donkey populations, leading to theft, long-distance transportation without adequate provisions, and inhumane killings to meet the demand for this traditional Chinese medicine. Additionally, a report by the Donkey Sanctuary, an advocacy group, details instances of workers in Tanzania reportedly using hammers to brutalize donkeys in order to fulfill ejiao production quotas.

The settlement between Amazon and the nonprofit organization, The Center for Contemporary Equine Studies, is seen as a potential precedent for other retailers to cease the sale of ejiao in California. Corey Page, an attorney representing the plaintiff, suggests that Amazon’s decision to settle signals that selling such products may be deemed illegal, encouraging other retailers to follow suit. The settlement agreement indicates that Amazon will make “reasonable best efforts” to implement internal measures preventing the sale of ejiao products to California addresses. This move reflects a commitment to align with California law and addresses the concerns raised by the nonprofit organization regarding the impact of ejiao production on donkey welfare.

The error message Amazon provided when trying to order ejiao for a California address (Amazon)

The attempt to purchase an ejiao product named “Ass Hide Glue Lumps” using an old but still active Los Angeles address, as reported in a previous Wired article, was thwarted by Amazon. The error message stated, “Sorry, this item can’t be shipped to your selected address,” and advised either changing the shipping address or removing the item from the order. This restriction appears to align with Amazon’s settlement and its commitment to not selling ejiao products in California.

For those surprised by Amazon’s sale of donkey products, it’s worth noting that the retailer also offers a range of “exotic” meats, including whole-skinned alligator, foie gras (duck or goose liver), kangaroo jerky, and boneless snapping turtle meat. These items are available for purchase outside of California. The diverse range of products raises questions about ethical sourcing, animal welfare, and the broader market for exotic meats on online platforms.

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