Video: Investigation Reveals Abuse of Donkeys and Mules Used as ‘Taxis’ in Santorin

For Immediate Release:

10 September 2018


Jennifer White +44 (0) 20 7837 6327, ext 222; [email protected]


PETA Urges Greek Authorities to Stop the Cruelty as Overweight Tourists From UK, US, and Russia Exacerbate Problem 

LondonAn eyewitness report published by PETA Germany reveals the horrific conditions that donkeys and mules endure every day on the Greek island of Santorini. Exposed to the scorching heat, the animals are used as “taxis” to transport tourists up more than 500 steep steps to the old town of Firá, even though a cable car has been operating nearby for decades. They make this arduous journey four to five times a day. When not being made to carry extremely heavy loads on their backs, they’re tethered in the blazing sun without access to water or shade. In response, PETA is calling on the Greek Minister of Tourism and the Mayor of Santorini to put an end to these animals’ suffering and the widespread violations of animal-welfare laws.

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“Santorini must ban cruel donkey rides and establish a sanctuary to which these poor animals can be retired,” says PETA Director Elisa Allen. “In the meantime, PETA is calling on tourists to refuse to support this abuse and to use the port’s cable car instead.”

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way” – points to veterinary recommendations that donkeys not be made to carry more than 20 per cent of their own body weight, approximately 50 kilograms. However, footage shows that animals used for rides in Santorini are often forced to carry much more than this, which can lead to long-term health problems, such as hoof and joint issues.

The video footage also shows that ill-fitting and worn-down saddles cause painful abrasions and wounds on some animals’ abdomens, while inadequate headgear left some with fly-covered head wounds. Owners were found to be denying the animals water, shade from the hot Mediterranean sun, and protection from the elements, which is a violation of Greek animal-welfare laws. Even at night, some donkeys are forced to continue working, as they’re used to transport heavy bags of rubbish. Once they’re too old or weak to do this work, they’re often abandoned to die.

Handlers were seen dragging animals down the steps and whipping and hitting them with sticks to make them continue walking. Many tourists were also observed mishandling them by digging their heels into their flanks to get them to move. PETA emphasises that these operators prioritise profits over animal welfare and that exploiting animals for rides such as these always causes extreme suffering.

In 2018, Greece is expected to receive a total of 32 million foreign travellers – an all-time high. According to reports, the number of tourists coming from Britain, Russia, and the US has trebled, and as a result, donkeys and mules are being forced to work almost all year round.

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