Greek Government To Hand Out £25,000 Fines For Mistreating Donkeys For Tourist Rides
The Greek government has promised to restrict the use of donkeys for tourist rides in Santorini following international outcry over their mistreatment.
The Greek Minister for Agriculture and Food, Makis Voridis, has said authorities are trying to work towards a fine of up to £25,000 for any mistreatment or abuse of downtrodden donkeys and mules.
The news comes after animal charities said donkeys used to ferry tourists around Santorini were being crippled by ‘fat’ tourists because of the hilly nature of the island.
Concerns over Santorini’s use of donkeys and mules to ‘taxi’ people were later highlighted by none other than Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee in an open letter to authorities.
The letter read:
I’m honoured to have been born in Athens, and wherever I tour with Mötley Crüe, I proudly proclaim my Greek heritage.
But there’s an issue souring the reputation of Greece that I hope you’ll help resolve: the sickening abuse of broken-down donkeys and mules made to lug tourists up steep hills on Santorini.
I visited the island this summer on a yacht trip – we docked there for two days and I refused to ride a donkey up to the city centre.
I just saw this story about it on CNN and decided to join my friends at PETA in trying to stop this cruelty. I was especially angry to learn that a law passed just a few years ago to help the donkeys isn’t being enforced. Tourists should take Santorini’s cool cable car!
Instead they pile on to struggling donkeys, who are forced to carry humans up and down the 500 steps from the port to Fira’s old town several times a day.
Ill-fitting saddles cause inflamed wounds that often go untreated.
Animals have no protection from the scorching Greek sun and are only rarely granted short breaks.
They’re even denied food and water. The video footage of these suffering animals haunts me.
I understand that you have the power to stop this cruelty and make Santorini hospitable to both tourists and animals. Please put an immediate end to the old-school cruelty of ‘animal taxis’.
For context, around 1,200 tourists arrive on Santorini every day, with many seeing the traditional donkey ride up the steps to the old town as a staple part of the tourist experience.
Back in October 2018, ‘fat tourists’ were banned from riding the donkeys, with anyone weighing more than 100kg not being allowed to be carried by a donkey.
Unfortunately the new rules were barely enforced, which has prompted Tommy Lee to publish his letter.
In response, Mr Voridis said his Ministry is aiming to tighten the relevant controls before the next tourist season begins in 2020.
Mr Voridis said:
The welfare of productive animals, working animals and generally all the animals of our country is a major concern for me personally and for our Ministry.
In the event of violations of existing legislation by the audit authorities, the offenders will be subject to severe penalties.
It is noted that the envisaged fine may be up to €30,000.
The minister also said allegations of mistreatment of donkeys was monitored extremely closely and in line with EU animal welfare regulations.
He added he wanted to see tradition upheld, local communities maintained and strengthened with a booming economy but animals also being protected.
Just last summer, a petition was signed by 108,000 people condemning tourists for riding the animals up the steep steps.
Christina Kaloudi, who moved to Santorini 10 years ago and set up the Santorini Animal Welfare Association, has previously said she doesn’t want locals to lose their business; simply be more mindful and caring towards the animals that provide it.
She said in a statement in 2018:
The holiday season on islands is now a lot longer than it used to be, meaning that 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.
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.
That’s really not that much to ask, is it?
Here’s hoping the Greek government’s promised crackdown has the benefit to the animals we all hope it will.
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