Donkeys and mules forced to carry tourists up and down between the old town and the port on the Greek island of Santorini still suffer tremendously, as PETA Germany investigations in the holiday destination have revealed. Footage shows numerous animals with open, untreated wounds on short chains in the sun without food or water.
Update (23 February 2023): PETA Germany Files Legal Complaint PETA Germany has released new video footage and photos, taken in the summer of 2022, which once again show the abuse on Santorini. Equine expert Dr Maximilian Pick reviewed the footage and confirmed the desperately poor welfare conditions of the donkeys and mules, including untreated wounds, ill-fitting riding gear, inadequate care, and overloading:
“The photos and video footage of the donkeys and donkey crossbreeds document that the animals on Santorini are exposed to conditions that are very much a matter of [poor] animal welfare: not only do animals exhibit numerous, partly untreated skin wounds, the scar tissue found on the skin on the head, in the girth position, and on the legs is proof of injuries that went untreated. The saddles and bridles are unsuitable for riding and transporting tourists. Having animals stand in the blazing sun without providing water or food is cruel. The animals are usually overloaded when transporting tourists (sometimes two riders on one pack animal) up the steep stairs.” – Dr Maximilian Pick
In response, PETA Germany, together with the Greek organisation Ippothesis – Panhellenic Equine Welfare Society, has now filed a legal complaint with Greek authorities regarding this abuse. The criminal charges are being filed against the owners of the animals, the donkey handlers, and the local authorities. Although the authorities are aware that animal welfare regulations are being violated, they are either unable or unwilling to put an end to this. Charges are therefore being filed against a number of people, including the current mayor of Santorini, Antonis Sigalas, various employees of the municipality, and both current and former chiefs of police, on a national and a local level.
Years of Abuse
PETA Germany has been documenting this cruelty since 2018. A previous eyewitness investigation showed exhausted donkeys and mules with bloody wounds being forced to carry tourists up and down steep, slippery steps all day long on the Greek island.
Following an appeal by PETA Germany, the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food banned any person weighing over 100 kilograms from riding the animals, but today, donkeys and mules are still being forced to carry any tourist who wants a ride, no matter how much they weigh.
Many of the animals have painful wounds on their abdomens – both new and old, untreated ones that have scarred over – caused by ill-fitting saddle girths and other inadequate equipment. For them, every step is painful.
Please take action below to urge the Greek ministers for tourism and agricultural development and food to ban cruel donkey and mule rides on Santorini immediately.