Colombian police have rescued a donkey that was painted as a political billboard, saving the animal from making an ass of itself with an unwanted career in politics.

The donkey had its legs painted in Colombia’s national colors, and its body stenciled with the name of Pablo Parra, a mayoral candidate in the northern town of Albania.

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On Aug. 7, the abandoned donkey was found wandering the dusty campaign trail through the small town, still tattooed with political propaganda reminding voters to support Parra for mayor.

After the images were published by a local news site, the donkey’s plight became a national issue on Twitter. Users shared the picture and sent angry messages to candidate Parra, accusing him of abusing the animal.

Parra, however, denied any involvement in the donkey stunt. The candidate claims his political enemies were trying to insult him by painting his name on a hapless ass.

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“I’m no intellectual, but I’m not stupid either,” Parra, a retired cop, told national news magazine Semana. “I assure you that if I find out who did this I will sue them for animal abuse.”

Police are reportedly investigating the incident.

In the meantime the donkey was taken into custody, scrubbed clean in the river, and returned to its owner.

The donkey’s owner, who asked not to be identified by name, told Semana that his animal was "kidnapped" while grazing near his farm, and he never agreed to have the donkey turned into a campaign poster.

Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.