Civil Unrest in Jordan Blocks Animals From Receiving Care

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4 min read

Update: The PETA-supported free veterinary clinic in Jordan is back helping animals in Petra.


Donkeys wait in the sweltering desert sun, without access to food or water, while their handlers goad tourists into riding the animals up and down the 900 crumbling stone steps to a monastery.

July 27, 2023: Animals forced to work in the tourism industry can’t seem to catch a break—even when they don’t have to haul tourists around, straining their sensitive backs. Widespread anger and unrest among Jordan’s Bedouin community are making it impossible for the veterinary clinic, supported by PETA’s Global Compassion Fund, to reach injured donkeys, camels, and other animals—who have nowhere else to turn for free care. Once again, the government has failed to pay animal handlers the monthly wages that it vowed to honor, which has resulted in an eruption of violence that has forced tourists and others to flee to safety. Staff are on standby to get back into the area as soon as possible in order to help the animals. Check this page for updates as the situation unfolds.

Handlers wield sharp sticks and other objects as whips to force donkeys to move along for the next paying customer.

Update (March 9, 2023): After being blocked by a near riot and gunfire between the Bedouin villagers and the government, the PETA-supported veterinary clinic is back in action today! With the violence that erupted earlier this week under control—at least for now—staff are again providing the animals with care. Villagers say they still haven’t received their promised pay from the government—including those who replaced their horse-drawn carts with the electric vehicles supplied by the Ministry of Tourism. As a result, horse owners are using their weary animals to fill the income gap by forcing them to haul heavy carts loaded with tourists around the archeological site. Veterinarians, concerned about the number of donkeys, mules, and camels now being used at Petra, are treating sore limbs, colic, infections, and other ailments.

To support the clinic and its work, please donate to PETA’s Global Compassion Fund.

These tourists likely didn’t check for painful, festering sores under the donkeys’ brightly colored blankets or other signs of distress before clambering onto their sensitive backs.

March 7, 2023: Gunfire has broken out in Uum Sayhoun between villagers and police, a volatile situation that’s making it impossible for PETA-supported veterinary clinic staff to reach injured donkeys and other weary animals who rely on their free care. The government had promised to compensate villagers each month after limiting the number of animals who work in tourism, but when the payments apparently failed to come through, animal handlers began protesting, and things quickly became violent.

Handlers forcefully pull and tighten the chain halters on these donkeys, creating excruciatingly painful wounds to the animals’ muzzles. A PETA-supported clinic pads the chains to help provide some relief, treats wounds, and talks to the owners about humane handling.

The PETA-supported clinic uses its mobile facility to provide working animals with free care each day, and it’s their only hope for relief. The staff treats those suffering from painful limbs, infected wounds, and other problems that result because handlers neglect their health, beat them, deny them adequate water and food, and force them to keep moving up and down the 900 crumbling stone steps to the monastery. We’re on standby, awaiting the opportunity to reenter Petra and help animals in the surrounding villages.

Clinic staff are in Petra every day to help the many donkeys, camels, horses, and other animals who are forced to work.

Thousands of PETA supporters have taken action to make carts like these available to tourists.

This horse was showing signs of pain in his legs, so clinic staff stopped the carriage he was pulling—which would typically have tourists in it—to help him out.
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