For Immediate Release:

15 November 2019

Animal Protection Group Demands a Ban on Donkey Rides Following New Video Exposé

Sydney – A video released today by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) shows that donkeys and mules continue to be exploited on the Greek island of Santorini, a year after a shocking exposé by PETA Germany. Following a PETA appeal, the Greek Ministry for Rural Development banned such rides for anyone weighing over 100 kilograms last year. However, equines are still being forced to carry tourists – some of whom are over the weight limit – and are sustaining wounds caused by poorly fitting saddles.

The footage, taken in September 2019, shows that some animals trip after being beaten with a stick by their handler, also endangering tourists who are on foot – one man even had to jump onto a wall to get out of the way. PETA has now launched an online petition calling for Greek legislators to introduce a complete ban on all donkey rides.

“Exhausted donkeys and mules with bloody wounds are being driven up and down the steep, slippery steps from morning to night in Santorini,” says PETA spokesperson Emily Rice. “The site is also dangerous to humans: hikers are constantly being pushed aside, and on many occasions, eyewitnesses were also forced to dodge the frequently unsupervised animals in order to avoid injury. PETA is urging legislators to act responsibly by banning these rides.”

New laws about putting too much weight on donkeys and mules have not been enforced.

Even though it’s possible to ascend to the town of Firá by cable car, around 100 donkeys and mules are still being forced to trek up and down more than 500 steps several times a day while carrying tourists on their backs. This investigation reveals that donkey handlers are not complying with the weight limit rules, and there’s no enforcement. Furthermore, many tourists are visibly inept when it comes to riding: they dig their heels into the animals’ flanks in order to compel them to walk or drag them down the steps.

Because of poorly fitting and worn-out saddles, some animals suffer from painful chafing and wounds around their bellies. The bridles are also unsuitable: some donkeys and mules have head wounds teeming with flies as a consequence of wearing them. While the animals are forced to stand in the midday sun and wait for the next customer, their handlers deny them even the most basic care, such as water, shade, and protection from bad weather.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way” – opposes speciesism – a human-supremacist worldview.

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