The Greek government has banned obese tourists from riding donkeys after animal rights campaigners said the animals were being left with spinal injuries and open wounds.
Since images of donkeys climbing the narrow steps of Santorini laden down by heavy tourists hit the headlines worldwide, lawmakers in Greece have now pledged to do more to help the animals.
The Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food has published a new set of regulations regarding donkeys’ well-being after receiving multiple complaints following media coverage in July.
These state that donkeys giving tourists rides in Santorini should not carry any loads heavier than 100kg or one-fifth of their weight.
The move comes after animal activists on the island claimed with obesity on the rise, donkeys were being forced to carry ever-heavier loads while working long hours, seven days a week without shelter, rest and water – leaving them with spinal injuries and open wounds from ill-fitting saddles.
The new rules state-
-The owners of working donkeys should ensure that the animals’ level of health is high. There should also be disinfection materials in their living quarters and workstations.
-Under no circumstances should donkeys be used if they are unfit for work i.e., ill animal, injured, animals in an advanced pregnancy as well as animals with poor maintenance of hooves.
-The animals should be given appropriate and adequate food and fresh drinking water daily, into containers which cannot be contaminated and are cleaned at least once a day.
-Working equines should not be loaded with excessive weight for their size, age or physical condition. The load cannot exceed the weight of 100kg, or one-fifth of their body weight.’
Santorini is known for its hilly terrain and donkeys have traditionally been used to transport people over the famously stepped areas which vehicles cannot access, such as in capital Fira.
In June, charities there claimed the explosion of fat tourists meant locals who are keen to get the most out of their animals were being forced to crossbreed the animals to create mules, which are bigger and taller and can carry heavier loads with more stamina.