Shocking Video: Abuse of Donkeys and Mules Used as ‘Taxis’ on Greek Isle of Santorini

PETA Germany Urges Greek Minister of Tourism to Stop the Cruelty

For Immediate Release:
September 10, 2018

Moira Colley 202-483-7382


Exposed to the scorching heat and bearing wounds covered with flies, donkeys and mules on the Greek island of Santorini are forced to work as “taxis,” carrying tourists to Firá’s old town, which means that they must climb 500 steep steps with extremely heavy loads on their backs. PETA Germany has obtained video footage showing that even exhausted and wounded animals were tethered in the blazing sun without access to water or shade while waiting for new customers. The animal rights group is calling on Greek Minister of Tourism Elena Kountoura and Firá Mayor Anastasios-Nikolaos Zorzos to put an end to these animals’ suffering and the widespread violations of animal-welfare laws.

“Santorini must ban donkey rides,” says PETA Germany campaigner Jana Hoger. “This abuse is unacceptable, and we’re calling on all tourists to refuse to support this ‘attraction’ and instead to use the port’s cable car to get to the old town. Sick and injured animals—some of whom may be pregnant—must be retired from giving rides immediately, and a sanctuary must be created for them.”

PETA Germany—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—notes that carrying such heavy loads can lead to long-term health problems, such as hoof and joint issues. Furthermore, many tourists have been observed handling the animals inhumanely: They dig their heels into the donkeys’ flanks to get them to move and drag them down the stairs. Some owners were seen whipping them and hitting them with sticks to make them continue walking.

The video footage also shows that ill-fitting and worn-down saddles caused painful abrasions and wounds on some animals’ abdomens and their headgear was inadequate: Some donkeys and mules had incurred head wounds that were covered with flies. While they were waiting for the next tour, owners denied them water, shade to escape the hot Mediterranean sun, and protection from the elements, which is a violation of Greek animal-welfare laws. Even at night, the Santorini donkeys don’t get enough rest: In the very early hours of the morning, they’re also used to transport heavy bags of garbage. And once they’re too old or weak to do this work, they’re often abandoned and left to die.

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