The Greek island of Santorini has banned “overweight” tourists from riding donkeys on the island due to the stress it’s putting on the animals’ bodies, CNN reports. Activists had been complaining about the spinal injuries the donkeys experienced as a result of carrying around heavy travelers and transporting them up some of the island’s slopes and staircases, and it seems their pleas finally prompted real change.
- No tourists over 220 pounds are allowed to ride. The new rules in Santorini means that tourists must weigh less than 220 pounds (100 kg) in order to be able to ride one of the island’s donkeys, which translates to 20% of the donkey’s body weight. According to the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food, the donkeys “should not be loaded with a weight excessive in size, age or physical condition.”
- The treatment the animals received was a serious concern. Officials are said to have received “multiple complaints and publications on the living conditions and well being of domestic animal” over the summer about the treatment of the donkeys by greedy owners who want to make as much cash off the animals as possible, often by renting them out for rides to Santorini’s many tourists despite their size.
- A petition to change conditions for the donkeys was incredibly successful. A petition to stop the abuse of the donkeys on Santorini gained over 100,000 signatures, and may have gone a long way in getting officials to implement real change. However, the idea of banning them as a mode of transportation altogether was not successful.
- Weight limits weren’t the only new rules put in place. Moving forward, the donkeys must now be exercised at least once a day for an hour and they must have constant and regular access to fresh drinking water.
- Not everyone is impressed with the change. PETA claim that the new measures are simply a “throwaway” gesture which “won’t prevent the daily suffering that these donkeys endure.” As Mimi Bekhechi, PETA UK’s director of international programs, said in a statement: “Donkeys can still be forced to carry a person weighing 15 stone 10 pounds (100 kilograms) up more than 500 steep steps four to five times a day.”