Overweight Tourists Are Crippling the Donkeys in Santorini, Greece

111By Amanda Froelich

Being overweight doesn’t just increase your risk(s) of developing diseases of affluence, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Carrying extra weight can also harm those around you. For instance, overweight tourists are crippling the donkeys of Santorini, Greece, who labor for hours each day.

According to The Daily Mail, Santorini experiences its highest influx of tourists during the months of May to October. Every day, cruise ships deliver up to 1,200 visitors who are excited to learn and experience Greek culture.

The island is known for its hilly terrain and donkeys have traditionally been used to transport people all over. Donkeys are especially useful to travel to places vehicles are not allowed, including capital Fira. Unfortunately, the animals cannot tolerate the increasing load of their passengers, which is why local resorts are cross-breeding the animals to produce mules. The horse-donkey hybrids are sturdier than their predecessors, therefore, can carry more weight.

Most of the donkeys work long hours, seven days a week, without shelter, rest, or water. According to animal rights activists, this makes them prone to develop spinal injuries and open wounds from ill-fitting saddles. The extra weight of obese tourists is adding insult to injury.

Said a spokesperson for Help the Santorini Donkeys charity: “It’s recommended that animals should carry no more than 20 percent 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 eight stone, but how would that be imposed and who would be there to make sure that happened?,” the spokesperson continued. “Now they’re having to resort to using cross-bred mules, because the donkeys just aren’t strong enough.”

42-year-old Christina Kaloudi moved to Santorini from Athens 10 years ago. After witnessing the conditions donkeys are forced to endure, she set up the Santorini Animal Welfare Association. Kaloudi says that in the last 10 years, she has noticed an increasing number of overweight tourists. Most come from the USA, UK, and Russia.

She and other locals claim that the donkeys make four to five journeys up the white, cobbled steps to the town of Fira each day. Temperatures often reach 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius). Furthermore, they are not protected from the sun, have ill-fitting tack, and are not offered water.

Said Kaloudi: ‘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,” she continued. “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.”

The solution is simple: the donkeys of Santorini need to be retired… not just because carrying overweight tourists is back-breaking work, but because exploiting animals for profit is unethical. At least, this is the opinion of animal rights activists. What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

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Source: The Daily Mail

Image credit: toneteam / 123RF Stock Photo

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