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Shocking footage shows donkeys whipped and beaten as they are forced to carry in Santorini | Daily Mail Online

Shocking footage shows donkeys whipped and beaten as they are forced to carry overweight tourists up 500 steps on Santorini, leaving them with painful injuries

Shocking footage shows donkeys on the idyllic Greek island of Santorini being whipped as they carry overweight tourists up 500 steps.

A clip released by activist group PETA shows donkeys and mules being used as taxis to haul heavy holidaymakers up the island’s picturesque cobblestones.

Harrowing video of mistreated animals shows flies crawling over open sores caused by poorly fitting saddles and a handler striking one of the creatures with a stick and violently yanking at its reins.

It comes as the animal rights group accuses officials of being in ‘clear breach’ of Greek animal welfare laws by ‘denying the animals water or a place to cool down’.

PETA also claim officials are blocking their campaigns to place signs on buses and taxis reading ‘Donkeys Suffer for Tourists. Please Don’t Ride Them.’

The donkeys, who are decorated with bright coloured beads and jingling bells, haul hundreds of tourists up a steep paths. 

Many visit the island from cruise ships, pay €6 (£5.37) for a journey from the harbour to the island’s capital. 

If the donkeys don’t move they are whipped, shocking footage shows. 

Shocking footage shows donkeys on the idyllic Greek island of Santorini being whipped as they carry overweight tourists up 500 steps

In April, a fresh campaign was launched to urge tourists to stop riding donkeys, despite decades of efforts to get it stopped altogether from campaign groups.

The animals make four or five return journeys up 520 wide, cobbled steps on the cliff-side path that leads to the town of Fira.   

The plight of the donkeys, which are marched from fields at dawn in temperatures  regularly more than 86F (30C) has been labelled  ‘Santorini’s grubby little secret’.

In recent years there has been an increase in donkeys suffering spinal injuries, saddle sores and exhaustion.   Many of them who become too exhausted to ride are left out to die, according to Peta.

A clip released by activist group PETA shows donkeys and mules being used as taxis to haul heavy holidaymakers up the island’s picturesque cobblestones

It comes as the animal rights group accuses the group of being in ‘clear breach’ of Greek animal welfare laws by ‘denying the animals water or a place to cool down’ (pictured, donkeys carry tourists on the steep steps)

PETA also claim officials are blocking their campaigns to place signs on buses and taxis reading ‘Donkeys Suffer for Tourists. Please Don’t Ride Them’ Pictured: Tourists ride donkeys on a narrow path

When a cable car was introduced on the island, donkeys were used less frequently by travellers ascending the steps.

But as tourism volcanic isle increased, up to 17,000 holidaymakers arrived at the port each day from cruise ships, and demand for the donkey rides increased.   

The animals who walk up in lines of two to ten, offload at a ‘donkey station’ just before the summit of the steps and then return for their next load, often bumping into walkers or squeezing them into walls that look over steep drops.

The donkeys, who are decorated with bright coloured beads and jingling bells, haul hundreds of tourists up a steep paths but are left with untreated wounds as they are covered in flies

Many tourists visit the island from cruise ships, pay €6 (£5.37) for a journey from the harbour to the island’s capital

The animals make four or five return journeys up 520 wide, cobbled steps on the cliff-side path that leads to the town of Fira, and are left with grazes and wounds (pictured)

Santorini, which stretches to 30 square miles and has a population of 25,000, has grown in popularity to the point where Mayor Nikolos Zorzos has limited the number of cruise ship passengers that can disembark to 8,000 a day from a peak of 18,000 in 2016 because of overcrowding.

More than 108,000 people signed an online petition last summer deploring what it described as the ‘mindless and unnecessary torture [of equines]’ used by tourists to ride the steps.

There was further anger when pictures were posted on social media of the overweight tourists riding donkeys up the steps. 

The plight of the donkeys, which are marched from fields at dawn in temperatures regularly more than 86F (30C) has been labelled ‘Santorini’s grubby little secret’

In recent years there has been an increase in donkeys suffering spinal injuries, saddle sores and exhaustion. Many of them who become too exhausted to ride are left out to die, according to Peta

The animals who walk up in lines of two to ten, offload at a ‘donkey station’ just before the summit of the steps and then return for their next load, often bumping into walkers or squeezing them into walls that look over steep drops

In response the Greek government introduced legislation making it illegal to burden animals with ‘any load exceeding 100kg (15 stone 10 lbs) , or one-fifth of [their] body weight.’ 

However, the activist group says the donkeys should be carrying a maximum of half that.

‘Veterinary recommendations, donkeys shouldn’t carry more than 20 percent of their body weight, approximately 110 pounds (7st 12lbs,  50kg)’ their website explains.     

Shocking footage shows donkeys whipped and beaten as they are forced to carry in Santorini

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