Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Greece Taking Burden Off Working Donkeys

Greece Taking Burden Off Working Donkeys

Greek lawmakers have moved to regulate the popular tourist activity on the island and impose a weight limit on loads, after photos of donkeys smarting from open wounds made headlines around the world this summer, provoking public outrage.

But animal lovers say these donkeys are being abused, and new rules to protect them are singling out overweight tourists as one of the main problems.

Santorini's donkeys are used as "taxis" to carry tourists, mainly passengers from cruise ships, up the hundreds of narrow steps to the city of Fira.

But authorities in Greece have now banned overweight tourists from travelling on donkeys after it left the animals with spinal injuries.

"The donkeys are still forced to carry cement, appliances, and all sorts of heavy weights".

Activists also revealed how the animals often work seven days a week for long hours in the direct sun, often up to 30 degrees, without rest or water.

"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 auto".

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Concerns have also been raised by the UK-based Donkey Sanctuary charity regarding the conditions of the animals working on Santorini. "Animals are not at our disposal, nor are they for our use".

Besides several health and hygiene rules laid down for donkey owners, the government bulletin states: 'Working equines should not be loaded with excessive weight for their size, age or physical condition.

"Under no circumstances should we use animals unfit for work i.e., ill animal, injured, animals in an advanced pregnancy as well as animals with poor maintenance of hooves", the regulations stated.

In a statement, the government said: "The animals should be given appropriate and adequate food and fresh drinking water daily, into containers which can not be contaminated and are cleaned at least once a day".

"It's a very big step, I think all our hard work has paid off", she said.

Not all activists believe the new guidelines will effectively prevent animal suffering.

"The next day after the bulletin was released, I was told a tourist had been carried up the hill by three different donkeys, so as not to exhaust them".

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