In order to protect the iconic Greece Santorini donkeys, new rules have been established by the government to ensure the safety of the animals. In response to numerous complaints from animal advocates as well as tourists, the new regulations will set weight limits for those riding the donkeys.
According to Greek News, activists have long complained that the donkeys have been suffering spinal injuries. Tourists pay a fee to ride the donkeys up steep cliffs from the shore to the island’s picturesque town, however obese sightseers have placed too much weight on the donkeys, critically injuring their spines. The new regulation limits the people who ride them to under 220 pounds or one-fifth of the donkey’s body weight.
“The animals should not be loaded with a weight excessive in size, age or physical condition,” stated the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food.
Santorini has steep and difficult terrain to travel, and the donkeys are able to travel the worn pathways where cars can not maneuver. In July, a petition garnered over 108,000 signatures calling for an end to the donkeys being used as transportation.
“Despite the fact that it’s only a 30 minute walk (depending on how fast you are – that’s how long it took me) or 2 minutes by cable car, these donkeys are used as cruel transportation for people who want the ‘real Greek’ experience.”
In addition, for all the work and money they make for their owners, the donkeys are often treated so poorly.
“These donkeys are forced to stand around in the sun in their own faeces at the side of the path and all they do is go up and down, up and down carrying people who are too lazy to just walk or take cable car. In addition, the farmers give them lashings to make them go faster up the path when carrying tourists etc.
I’m so so saddened by this, even old donkeys who have probably been doing this all their lives haven’t been given to the shelters yet. So if you ever go to Santorini – or any other place that offers rides on animals such as donkeys or elephants etc. please, please do not support this mindless and unnecessary animal torture.”
Further restrictions require the donkeys be exercised once a day for at least a half-hour and have a continuous supply of drinking water. Owners now have to take responsibility that the health, stables, and supplies for the donkeys are clean, well-maintained and free from disease, with officials stressing under no circumstances can they be used if deemed unfit for work. (included are maintenance of their hooves, advanced pregnancy or injured)
The Donkey Sanctuary met with the Greek government in August, in response to the intense criticism, to discuss the safety and health of the animals at which time there were pledges made to improve the conditions of the equines. Still most advocates do not believe the new law will do much good, and it will not prevent the daily suffering of these gentle animals. Imagine how exhausted and painful it must be for the donkeys having to carry an adult up 500 steep steps four to five times a day?
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