American animal rights group PETA has accused Greek authorities of covering up what it has referred to as the “cruel” treatment of donkeys on the island of Santorini, adding that locals from the island are blocking its efforts to highlight their plight.
Santorini is one of Greece’s most popular destinations and many tourists are known to ride donkeys and mules during their time on the famous island but PETA says the donkeys are forced to carry visitors and their luggage up steep hills when cable cars are available.
PETA, which published footage from 2018 showing animals being whipped with sticks and overloaded, accused local authorities of blocking its campaign on buses and taxis depicting an exhausted donkey next to the words “Donkeys Suffer for Tourists. Please Don’t Ride Them.”
“Greek authorities should be stepping up and stopping donkeys from being marched into the ground in Santorini, not covering up the cruelty of forcing them to carry heavy loads of tourists up hundreds of steps,” PETA Director Elisa Allen said in a statement.
The group said about 100 out of 2,000 donkeys and mules are being used for tourist rides on the island.
Santorini Mayor Nikos Zorzos said authorities were abiding by Greek law which protects the animals and said “several organizations” had deemed they were in good health.
“We care about their well-being,” Zorzos told Reuters, adding that the municipality had no jurisdiction over any campaign on buses or taxis.
The group said it will now consider other options to make tourists on Santorini aware of the animals’ ordeal this summer.