Officials in Santorini have now banned ‘fat tourists’ from riding donkeys.
The popular cruise destination is often awash with tourists, with up to 1,200 visitors a day arriving on cruise ships between May and October.
Known for its hills and steep paths, donkeys are used in Santorini to help transport people to areas vehicles can’t reach.
Many tourists opt to go on a donkey ride on the island, but now there is a restriction on how heavy you can be to hitch a ride.
According to 9Gag, the country’s Ministry of Rural Development and Food has published a new set of regulations stating donkeys should not carry any loads heavier than 100kg (around 15st) in Santorini.
It adds donkeys should be given a reasonable amount of appropriate food and fresh drinking water and that they should not work long hours with ill-fitting saddles.
Earlier this year, a spokesperson for the Help the Santorini Donkeys charity spoke about the awful conditions donkeys are forced to work.
It’s recommended that animals should carry no more than 20 per cent of their own body weight.
The obese and overweight tourists, combined with the lack of shade and water as well as the sheer heat and 568 cobbled steps, is what is causing such a problem.
There should be a weight restriction. With donkeys it is should be no more than 50kg, but how would that be imposed and who would be there to make sure that happened?
Now they’re having to resort to using cross-bred mules, because the donkeys just aren’t strong enough.
Christina Kaloudi moved to Santorini 10 years ago, and set up the Santorini Animal Welfare Association. She explained that cruise ships are bringing ever more overweight tourists from places like America, Russia and the UK.
According to the Mail, Christina said:
The holiday season on islands is now a lot longer than it used to be, meaning that the donkeys are pretty much in work the whole year round.
If they are not transporting tourists up the steps they are moving building materials or transporting heavy bags of rubbish.
There are some good owners out there that follow the code but generally donkeys are worked into the ground and then disposed of when their working lives are over.
They are made to work in terrible conditions without adequate water, shelter or rest and then I find them tied outside my shelter, barely alive.
Christina has also spoken about how the new regulations will still allow donkey rides, but with less harm to the working animals:
We don’t want to stop the locals making a living or using donkeys on the steps but to look after them in a fair and humane way.
Hopefully the donkeys will all get the appropriate care they deserve!
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.