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A PETA Germany Exposé

Santorini Government Puts Profit Before Lives of Donkeys and Mules

On the Greek island of Santorini, tourists can pay to have donkeys and mules haul them up a grueling 500 steps to the town of Firá. PETA Germany has published three different investigations exposing the miserable lives of these animals, who are forced to serve as “taxis” at this tourist attraction.

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PETA Germany's Newest Exposé Shows Animals Are Still Suffering in Santorini

Eyewitness footage taken in the summer of 2022 shows that the animals of Santorini still suffer daily. PETA Germany’s undercover investigation reveals that donkeys are forced to carry heavy loads, are given practically no respite from the hot Mediterranean sun, and are denied access to food and water. Pictures taken in July 2022 show numerous animals with open, untreated wounds. PETA Germany shared the images with horse expert Dr. Maximilian Pick, who confirmed in a statement that the conditions found on Santorini are cruel.

“The photos and video footage of the donkeys and donkey crossbreeds document that the animals on Santorini are exposed to conditions that are very much a matter of animal welfare: not only do animals exhibit numerous, partly untreated skin wounds, the scar tissue found on the skin on the head, in the girth position, and on the legs is proof of injuries that went untreated. The saddles and bridles are unsuitable for riding and transporting tourists. Having animals stand in the blazing sun without providing water or food is cruel. The animals are usually overloaded when transporting tourists (sometimes two riders on one animal) up the steep stairs.”

—Dr. Maximilian Pick, veterinarian

PETA Germany’s 2019 Eyewitness Footage Showed Similar Conditions

Although a new law was implemented after PETA Germany’s 2018 exposé, eyewitness footage from 2019 showed that it was not being observed or enforced. The animals’ makeshift and ill-fitting saddles caused sores, raw skin, and bloody injuries, which were often left untreated.

Some of the animals were forced to wear tight muzzles made of sharp metal wire that dug into their faces. Handlers were seen whipping, beating, and dragging animals who had stopped to rest.

The workers forced the exhausted animals to continue to haul tourists all day long.

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PETA Germany Exposed Donkey Suffering in Santorini for the First Time in 2018

In 2018, the first eyewitness video released by PETA entities showed donkeys and mules forced to carry heavy tourists up and down 500 steps several times a day. According to veterinary recommendations, donkeys shouldn’t carry more than 20% of their own bodyweight, approximately 110 pounds. But profit-driven owners ignored the advice and allowed much heavier people to ride, which placed a great strain on the animals’ backs and joints.

Even after completing their exhausting climb to the top, there was no respite, as they were tied to a wall in the scorching sun with no access to water or shade.

The footage also revealed that many of the animals had wounds from their ill-fitting saddles and head gear. Fresh wounds could be seen teeming with flies.

Even at night, the donkeys and mules got no rest as they were forced to haul trash in the town.

PETA Entities Call for Compassionate Cable Car Rides

After PETA Germany’s 2018 exposé, the Greek Ministry for Rural Development passed a new law to prohibit tourists weighing over 220 pounds from participating in animal rides. Yet PETA Germany’s 2019 and 2022 footage shows that the law has been neither observed nor enforced. So PETA Germany has filed a criminal complaint with the relevant Greek authorities. Greece must ban donkey and mule rides altogether, as this is the only way to guarantee the animals’ protection and end their suffering and exploitation.

When you book your next vacation, please leave donkey rides and other cruel animal experiences off your itinerary. If you’re asked to participate in an activity that profits from animal abuse during a vacation, please tell the organizers that you refuse to take part because no one deserves to suffer for entertainment. Also, ask them to stop offering such activities in the future. Please help keep the pressure on the Greek government to do right by the animals and stop permitting abusive donkey and mule “taxi” rides on Santorini.

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Workers in Santorini Ignore Law, Treat Donkeys and Mules Like Objects

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