Donkey basketball, one of the United State's most eccentric sports, is being banned in states across the US after pressure from animal rights activists.
The activity, invented during the Depression as cheap entertainment in rural area, remains a popular fund-raising tool in many American high schools, particularly in the Midwest.
Four-man teams compete on a standard basketball court, albeit mounted on donkeys.
Players are allowed to dismount and pull their donkey by its lead but cannot shoot unless they are mounted.
Under pressure from organisations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), however, school districts in states including Oregon, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania have banned the activity.
PETA claims the sport is cruel because donkeys are confused in the chaos and are often dragged, kicked and whipped to make them perform.
They also say the animals can be hurt by overweight riders and are deprived of food and water for several hours before a game so they do not foul on the basketball court.
However, donkey suppliers deny the cruelty accusations. "There are a lot of people out there who don't like donkey ball, but they're usually city folks who ain't never been around any animals before," said Kenny Schappacher of the Ohio-based Buckeye Donkey Ball.
Crystal Ward, a California donkey breeder, said a donkey is not harmed if it is pulled by a halter and lead rope rather than a bridle and bit.
She said donkeys were proportionally stronger than horses and a standard-sized donkey can comfortably carry nearly 11 stone of "live weight" with no problem.
She acknowledged that some donkey basketball players weigh significantly more, but added: "Overall, I don't see any huge red flags with donkey basketball."NEW YORK THE TELEGRAPH GROUP
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.