WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Santorini Donkeys animal rights group in Greece reported that numerous donkeys are becoming incapacitated by carrying overweight tourists.
- Aside from a rise in the number of obese tourists who like to ride donkeys, ill-fitting saddles, lack of water and exposure to extreme heat are also a concern.
- Officials also reported that thousands of overweight tourists who come to Santorini each day were mostly from the US, UK and Russia.
A spokesperson for Help the Santorini Donkeys animal rights group told Mirror that more and more donkeys on the island are becoming disabled and suffering from spinal injuries and open wounds. This is the result of carrying thousands of overweight tourists, mostly from the U.S., U.K., and Russia.
Officials also report that there is an increasing number of obese tourists who prefer to ride the donkeys, rather than trek the steep hills that lead to the Acropolis, a famous cruise ship destination.
“What’s causing the problem of crippled donkeys is a combination of ill-fitting saddles, lack of shade and water, trekking hundreds of cobbled steps in temperatures of 86 degrees Fahrenheit and transporting “fatter” humans,” said the spokesperson.
Reports from officials also stated that the number of overweight tourists from the three countries has continued to rise for the past few years. This prompted the activists to strictly impose a weight restriction for all riders.
“It’s recommended animals carry no more than 20 percent of their body weight,” the spokesperson told the Mirror. “With donkeys, it should be no more than eight stone [112 pounds].”
Locals have been reported to have started breeding their donkeys with stronger mules so they can carry their loads easier.
There are over 1,000 tourists each day flocking to Santorini between the months of May and October, the island’s peak vacation season. The vacation season has become longer than it used to be and for that, the donkeys work pretty much the whole year round, according to Christina Kaloudi, the founder of the Santorini Animal Welfare Association.
Aside from carrying tourists up the steps, they also transport building materials or heavy bags of garbage. Except for some good owners who treat these beasts of burden humanely, these animals work in terrible conditions without enough water, shelter or rest, then disposed of when they can no longer work.
An international code of working equines was signed by Santorini officials in 2008, however, there isn’t an appointed organization yet to enforce the policies.
Source: Fox News