Adequate shade to protect them from the sun, the provision of sufficient food and drinking water and the carrying of only moderate loads. These are some of the measures that will be introduced on the popular Greek island of Santorini where Network for Animals recently exposed the cruel and exploitative treatment of donkeys and mules used to carry tourists up a sheer mountainside.

According to a statement issued by the Municipality of Santorini on Saturday 28 July, the owners of the mules, donkeys and horses met with representatives of animal welfare societies and animal rights groups and agreed to “respect… the rights and the well-being of the donkeys.”

The statement from the municipality came a day after the donkey’s owners (called muleteers) brutally attacked local activists as they staged a protest against the abuse of donkeys on Santorini on Friday.

Two activists were taken to hospital, two more were slightly injured and one protester fainted. This ugly incident took place took place in front of throngs of shocked tourists.

According to the municipality, the two groups have agreed on a series of measures including the provision of adequate shade during the hours that the donkeys wait for customers and making sure the animals have plenty of food and water.

“Network for Animals is delighted with the terms of the agreement,” said the organisation’s Chief Campaigner, David Barritt, “but we will have to wait and see whether the municipality and muleteers live up to their promises.”

“The plight of these donkeys has been known to the municipality for 10 years and they have done nothing about it. We are happy to have played a role in bringing this cruelty to light. Our film of the donkeys of Santorini triggered outrage among our supporters across the globe. Santorini is a premium Greek tourist destination. How could this cruelty have continued for so long?”

According to the Municipality of Santorini’s statement, muleteers have agreed that donkeys will not be forced to carry overly heavy loads, and their working hours will be limited. Donkeys will be registered and micro-chipped.
Muleteers who mistreat their animals and do not implement the rules will be banned from the local union and union representatives have committed themselves to discipline muleteers who violate the rules. Muleteers who don’t abide by the rules will ultimately be banned from the union.

Muleteers have requested veterinary support for the donkeys and the animal welfare organisations present at the meeting committed to raising funds to provide such support.

The Municipality of Santorini committed itself to updating the rules statute for the donkeys and mules on Santorini, the statement said.