Legal battle over image rights to Spanish donkey who became a star after tearful reunion with owner

Graham Keeley
The 8-year-old donkey Baldomera was quite clearly emotional at seeing her owner, Ismael Fernandez, after two months apart - Caters News Agency

It was a heartwarming moment when a tearful man was reunited with his beloved donkey after two months apart because of the coronavirus lockdown.

Ismael Fernández could not wait any longer to visit the family farm in Malaga after authorities eased restrictions in May.

When the video of the 38-year-old embracing his female pet donkey Baldomera was posted on social media it went viral and has been seen by 50 million people around the world.

The innocent video has changed the life of Mr Fernández and Baldomera.

Two companies from the United States are contesting image rights to the donkey, Spanish media reported.

One firm has secured 70% of Baldomera's image rights, but the second company wants to claim the remaining 30%.

Mr Fernández, a former journalist who prefers the simple life living in El Borge, a village near Malaga with only 933 inhabitants, has had to engage a lawyer to cope with the business generated by his video.

Javier García León, of the law firm Advokatkontoret, is controlling the international rights to the video but admitted he had never worked with an animal.

He said what is at stake are the rights to intellectual property.

Any productions relating to Baldomera must respect core values of “friendship, animal rights and nature.”

“There will be children in the future who will know what lockdown was about because of Baldomera,” said Mr García.

The donkey now has more than 9,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter combined and is known on social media as Baldomerayyo.

Cups have been made with Baldomera's image on and a documentary about the story is in the pipeline.

A children's story about how one man was reunited with his favourite pet “in the mountains near the sea” has been written.

Mr Fernández admits he has been surprised by all the interest but believes his story has been an antidote to the grim news which COVID-19 produced. 

“The news spread like wildfire. I think we were tired of so much death and so much bad news. Everything coincided,” he told El Español, an online newspaper.

“It seems to go by zones, depending on lockdown. Lately we are viral in Argentina.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting.