Last year, Network for Animals (NFA) highlighted the terrible abuse donkeys on the Greek island of Santorini suffer. Donkeys, horses and mules are forced to carry tourists up and down 600 zigzag steps leading from a cliff base to a town 400 metres (1300 feet) high. As many as 17,000 tourists disembark from ships and make their way up the cliff, daily. The donkeys work continuously, all day long, and are not allowed food or water in case they defecate or urinate on the steps.
Under tremendous international pressure, the Greek government passed a law, which imposed a ban on tourists deemed overweight from riding donkeys, mules and horses. The law specifically restricted people weighing more than 100 kg from riding them, and prescribed that these animals be given appropriate and adequate food and water daily.
David Barritt, NFA’s chief campaigner said this law is being ignored. “We are in constant touch with animal-lovers on the island and nothing material has happened. No water troughs are being constructed. “We are extremely doubtful that anything will change for the donkeys this year.”
Barritt called on tourists who arrive in Santorini to boycott donkey-rides. “This is the time of year when people are booking summer holidays. If Santorini is on your schedule, remember it’s not quaint or cute to ride a donkey, in the blazing heat, up and down a 1300 foot cliff,” said Barritt. “It causes great cruelty, particularly when the animals are denied food or water.”
There is a cable car that links the port with the town which tourists should use, instead of inflicting cruelty on donkeys.