Greece bans 'overweight' tourists from riding donkeys in Santorini

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 13, 2018

But animal lovers say these donkeys are being abused, and new rules to protect them are singling out overweight tourists as one of the main problems.

Greece has just passed an unusual new law that imposes a ban on tourists deemed overweight on the island of Santorini.

The Greek ministry of rural development and food has instructed the authorities that the animals "should not be loaded with a weight excessive in size, age or physical condition".

Greece has banned fat tourists from riding on donkeys after campaigners said the animals were being left with spinal injuries.

In July, the animal rights group Help the Santorini Donkeys began petitioning for a weight restriction for donkey riders, as increasing numbers of overweight tourists have been reportedly opting to ride - not walk - up the steep hills of the popular cruise ship destination.

The Greek government has chose to legally ban overweight tourists from receiving rides from donkeys.

"The owners of working (donkeys) should ensure that the animals' level of health is high", a government statement read.

Concerns have also been raised by the UK-based Donkey Sanctuary charity regarding the conditions of the animals working on Santorini.

Donkeys are still used as a way to transport goods or carry people in some parts of the world.

The regulations also made it clear that animals not fit for work should not be used and they should get adequate food and fresh water every day.

In a statement, the government said: "The animals should be given appropriate and adequate food and fresh drinking water daily, into containers which can not be contaminated and are cleaned at least once a day".

"The situation in Santorini has been going on for many years and it can not be resolved in one day".

Not all activists believe the new guidelines will effectively prevent animal suffering.

Leader of the Athens branch of Direct Action Everywhere, Maria Skourta, said: "We were content with the bulletin because the goal of our organisation is to bring matters to light and initiate conversation".

"Exhausted donkeys and mules are spending long days in the scorching sun, carrying tourists or heavy and harmful rubbish loads, with little to no water, food or shade", the group said.

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