Small Animals Stuffed into Pinatas, Bashed to Death for Brutal "Festival"

Not far from the grand Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá, visited by more than 1.2 million tourists each year, a most gruesome "festival" takes place – and no animal in the vicinity is safe. People around the world are trying to stop the bloodshed and signing a petition to ban the festival, but the government has yet to act.

Iguanas, ducks, opossum, and even kittens and other small animals are captured, enclosed in papier mâché piñatas, hung in the town square, and brutally beaten and dismembered in a bloody death ritual the townspeople call Kots Kaal Pato, which translates to "strangle the duck" in English.

Children in the town spend the day before the festival rounding up the animals, which they consider to be "vermin." The animals are sealed in traditional, multi-colored piñatas, which are beaten by participants holding wooden sticks.

If the animal does not die from the beating, the townspeople – splattered with blood, feathers, and fur – hurl the animals in the air or kick and stomp them to death.

When all of the other animals are slaughtered, it's time for the gruesome main event. This is when the people of Citilcum bring out the duck to offer the bloodthirsty crowd. The duck is hung upside down by its feet from a tall wooden frame, similar to the type of gallows people used to be hung from as capital punishment. As the duck dangles helplessly in the air, Contestants rush the stage, pushing each other out of the way for their chance to attack. They jump as high in the air as they can, grab the duck's neck and attempt to rip its entire head off.

The winner takes the carcass home for dinner – a dubious "prize" for the violence.

The town is located in the state of Yucatán, near its capital city Mérida, and only a few hours from Cancún, Playa del Carmen, and other spots on the Mayan Riviera. Tourists pass right by or through Citilcum on their way to see ancient Mayan ruins, and never know about the cruelty within its borders.

No one in the town even seems to remember how the bloody ritual started.

"We don't know where this tradition comes from," elder townsman Idelfonso Tec told Vice."I was taught by my parents, and my parents from their parents and so on. It used to be done in a large kapok tree nearby, but in 2002-when Hurricane Isidore hit Yucatan-the tree fell."

You can help stop this brutal "festival." Please sign this petition, which is directed to the head of Environmental Protection in Yucatán. The Mexican government has the ability to stop this tragic event and spare these innocent animals from any more needless torture.

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