Amazon will stop selling donkey skin gelatin, but only in California


Amazon will no longer sell donkey-skin gelatin to California residents. A report published Wednesday by Wired states the online retailer settled with a nonprofit that filed a complaint, alleging the products violated state animal welfare laws protecting horses. Amazon denied any wrongdoing and disputed the allegations. Still, it agreed to block sales of ejiao, a traditional Chinese medicine made from donkey hide, in the Golden State.

The Center for Contemporary Equine Studies, an organization devoted to protecting horses, filed the complaint in February. It accused Amazon of violating California’s Prohibition of Horse Slaughter and Sale of Horsemeat for Human Consumption Act. The nonprofit argued donkey products should be classified as horsemeat based on the law’s language.

Ejiao is a gelatin made from soaked and stewed donkey hides. Devotees believe it treats conditions related to blood circulation, insomnia and dry cough. However, apart from one published study — funded by an ejiao maker — suggesting it can be used successfully to treat anemia, scientific research doesn’t appear to support these claims.

Closeup of a donkey, showing its face and upper body. It stands in a green field with overcast sky behind it.
Animal Welfare Institute

According to the Animal Welfare Institute, ejiao’s popularity is annihilating donkey populations. “Donkeys are being stolen, transported long distances without food or water, and killed under inhumane and unsanitary conditions” to fulfill ejiao’s demand, the organization wrote. Meanwhile, a report by the Donkey Sanctuary, an advocacy group, claims workers in Tanzania battered the animals with hammers to meet quotas.

The plaintiff’s attorney believes Amazon’s settlement sets a precedent for other retailers to cease ejiao sales in California. “Amazon doesn’t settle cases it thinks it can win,” Corey Page, an attorney with the firm that represented The Center for Contemporary Equine Studies, told Wired. “This is a signal that if anyone is doing this, they are doing something illegal. If a company like Amazon decides it needs to stop sending products and promoting products that violate California law, then all other retailers should do the same.”

Amazon’s settlement language reportedly agrees to “undertake reasonable best efforts” to enact “internal measures” blocking ejiao products “so that such products will not be available for sale to California addresses.”

Screenshot of an Amazon error message during checkout. It refuses to ship a donkey-made gelatin product to a Los Angeles, CA address.
The error message Amazon provided when trying to order ejiao for a California address

When I attempted to use an old (but still active, according to USPS) Los Angeles address of mine to buy an ejiao product called “Ass Hide Glue Lumps” (highlighted in a previous Wired report from earlier this year that drew attention to the issue), it thwarted the attempt. “Sorry, this item can’t be shipped to your selected address,” the error message read in red type. “You may either change the shipping address or delete the item from your order.”

If you’re surprised Amazon sold donkey products in the first place (and still does outside California), consider some other “exotic” meats the retailer offers. These include whole-skinned alligator (only $195!), foie gras (duck or goose liver), kangaroo jerky and boneless snapping turtle meat.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

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