Strangling ducks in Citilcum. Strangling ducks in the Yucatán town.

Beating small animals could end in Citilcum

Piñatas will be filled with candies instead after authorities intervene

Whacking small animals to death with sticks may cease to be a traditional event in the Yucatán town of Citilcum if a plan by the local government is successful.


Kots Kaal Pato is the name of an annual festival held in April in which piñatas are filled with a variety of animals, from opossums and kittens to iguanas and birds.

The animals that survive the piñata’s beating are subsequently trampled to death.

The main event, strangling ducks, is what gives the festival its Mayan name: Kots Kaal Pato translates roughly as “dance of the strangled duck.”

Ducks are tied upside down on a frame and young men grab them by the neck and pull them down. The head is torn off and the duck taken home for dinner.

However, modifications are coming.

The mayor of Izamal, the municipality in which Citilcum is situated, says an accord has been reached in spite of divisions of opinion among citizens.

Candies will replace the small animals in the piñatas and domestic appliances such as coffee-makers and microwaves will be taken home as prizes instead of the ducks.

Reaching an accord with the community “wasn’t easy,” said Mayor Warnel May Escobar, who observed that the municipality didn’t want to impose a solution.

The tradition will continue but with changes to the way in which it is celebrated, he said.

Discussions with residents have focused on raising awareness about the abuse of animals, and information flyers have been distributed door to door.

A petition calling for an end to the animal abuse earned more than 750,000 signatures after it was posted six months ago.

Source: Excélsior (sp)

Stories from our archives that you might enjoy