The Greek government has stepped in to put a cap on the maximum weight that tourist ride donkeys are allowed to carry.
The new guidelines come after campaigners spoke about the donkeys having to climb the narrow steps of Santorini with heavy tourists on their backs.
he Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food has published new regulations to ensure the wellbeing of donkeys.
One such rule says that the donkeys giving rides in Santorini shouldn’t carry anyone weighing more than 100kg, or one fifth of the animal’s weight.
The bulletin reads: “The owners of working equidae should ensure that the animals’ level of health is high. There should also be disinfection materials in their living quarters and workstations.
“Under no circumstances should be used animals unfit for work i.e., ill animal, injured, animals in an advanced pregnancy as well as animals with poor maintenance of hooves.
“The animals should be given appropriate and adequate food and fresh drinking water daily, into containers which cannot be contaminated and are cleaned at least once a day.
“Working equines should not be loaded with excessive weight for their size, age or physical condition. The load cannot exceed the weight of 100kg, or one fifth of their body weight.”
Earlier this year, campaigners spoke out about the treatment of the animals, who work long hours, seven days a week often without proper shelter or a chance to rest. As a result of poorly fitting saddles and having to carry heavy loads, many donkeys ended up with spinal injuries and cuts.
In an attempt to raise awareness, PETA started a petition called ‘Donkeys on Santorini Abused and Used as Taxis: Please Help Them!’
Elisavet Chatzi, a volunteer from Athens who participated in peaceful protest over donkeys’ treatment, said: “It’s a very big step, I think all our hard work has paid off.
“The situation in Santorini has been going on for many years and it cannot be resolved in one day.
“We have won our fight because of the international media attention on the topic. No one could ever believe that new regulations would be set.
The next day after the bulletin was released, I was told a tourist had been carried up the hill by three different donkeys, so as not to exhaust them.”
However, some campaigners believe there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Leader of the Athens branch of Direct Action Everywhere, Maria Skourta, said: “We were content with the bulletin because the purpose of our organisation is to bring matters to light and initiate conversation.
“But our goal is not to improve the lives of slaves, is to free them entirely.
“The donkeys are still forced to carry cement, appliances, and all sorts of heavy weights.