In response to new evidence of suffering experienced by animals working abroad in the tourism industry, The Donkey Sanctuary is urging UK tourists to “Take STEPS” to avoid participating in acts of animal cruelty this summer.
Donkeys and mules in tourist hotspots, such as the Greek island of Santorini, are commonly used as taxis, carrying passengers or luggage. An independent report produced last year1 revealed that many of these animals are forced to carry overweight passengers and are denied access to shade, water and rest for hours at a time. Poor quality saddles and bridles are often used and safety guidelines are regularly ignored, placing tourists at risk of injury.
A recent YouGov survey2 in the UK revealed that almost a third (30%) of adults have seen animals that looked like they were being or have been mistreated whilst on holiday abroad and, of these, 55% of people had seen it happening to animals working in the tourism industry.
Andrew Judge, Head of Operations-Continental Europe for The Donkey Sanctuary, says: “Being on holiday is not an excuse for ignoring signs that animals are in pain or distress. Tourist taxi donkeys and mules, like those on the island of Santorini, Greece, are made to stand in the baking heat with no shade or water for hours on end and are often forced to carry passengers who are far too heavy which causes injuries and exhaustion.
“This summer we urge British tourists to stop before riding a donkey or mule and consider if they may be contributing to the animal’s suffering. Sadly, the evidence shows that tourists cannot rely on these business owners to look after their animals properly and tourists must check for themselves that acts of cruelty aren’t taking place. People need to use our Take STEPS checklist before riding a donkey or mule.”
Tourists should Take STEPS before riding a tourist taxi animal and ask themselves:
- Safety: Will you be escorted by a conductor at all times during the ride,
- Thirst: Does this animal have access to fresh, clean water.
- Equipment: Is the saddle and bridle of good quality or is it causing sores or discomfort.
- Pounds: Are you an acceptable weight for this animal to carry.
- Shelter: Does this animal have access to shelter during rest breaks.
If tourists are not 100% happy with the answers to the above questions then they should not ride a donkey or mule. We are all responsible for the welfare of these animals and until conditions improve, The Donkey Sanctuary is urging all UK tourists to avoid taking part in acts of animal cruelty.
There is also an online petition to force the mayor of Santorini to comply with required improvements to the standards of animal welfare for the 400+ donkeys and mules working as tourist taxis on the island.