Izamal, Yucatán — A freshly signed agreement is being hailed as a major victory by advocates fighting animal cruelty in Yucatán.
Kots Kaal Pato, a notorious and gruesome annual Yucatecan animal sacrifice in which small animals were beaten to death or decapitated, has been permanently canceled. The announcement was made yesterday by Humane Society International after a concerted effort by numerous groups.
The festival had the dubious distinction of topping PETA’s “14 Worst ‘Festivals’ Still Taking Place Today.”
In the ritual, Iguanas and opossums were stuffed into piñatas, then beaten with sticks, Vice Magazine described vividly last year. Later, a duck would be hung from a wooden scaffold and participants would try to grab it. Eventually, the bird’s neck would break and the spectators would be spattered with blood.
The decision to end the cruelty was agreed upon by the Izamal Municipality in cooperation with local Catholic Church authorities, local animal protection organizations and Humane Society International.
The longstanding April event was held in honor of Saint Bartolo, ostensibly bringing on the rainy season.
Animal advocates thrilled
“We are thrilled that this so-called fiesta is finally over,” said Felipe Marquez, HSI/Mexico animal protection expert. “There is no excuse, cultural or religious, for this outrageous and inhumane practice to continue. Events like Kots Kaal Pato encourage animal abuse and that hurts our society and damages Mexico’s global image. We’ll continue to work with Izamal officials to ensure the ban is complete.”
As part of the agreement, authorities will only promote fiestas in which no animal will be injured or killed. These will include traditional sports and contests that provide cruelty-free entertainment.
For ending the tradition, HSI credits Warnel May Escobar, mayor of Izamal; Congressman Josué David Camargo Gamboa, chairman of the Environment Commission of Yucatan Congress and local organizations AFAD A.C. and Movimiento Consciencia, A.C.
Additionally, local activist Cathy Karam Sanchez and various religious authorities were lauded by HSI for their cooperation in bringing this one example of animal cruelty in Yucatán to an end.
A letter of intent formally committing all stakeholders will be signed next month.
The practice had continued for more than 100 years.
HSI is the international division of the Humane Society of the United States, and works around the world to advocate for animals. They have offices in the United States, Canada, Central America and Europe.