On the Greek island of Santorini, tourists often like to mount some of the area’s working donkey population to climb the steep hills that lead from the beach to the island’s largest community. However, carrying heavier travelers up the path for years and years has taken quite a toll on the donkeys, and advocacy groups have finally convinced Santorini officials to place a weight limit on donkey-passengers.
Best news today!— mark (@mark55921413) October 12, 2018
Activists successfully made the case that, over time, the donkeys have suffered spinal injuries as the result of carrying overweight riders up the hills. The rules now state passengers must weight less than “100 kilograms (220 pounds)—or one-fifth of the donkey’s body weight.”
Makes sense.— simbarashe (@simbakunedzimwe) October 12, 2018
The Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food conceded on these regulations after receiving “multiple complaints and publications on the living conditions and well being of domestic animals” over the summer. The animals carry tourists up the hill all day, often squeezing “through pathways too narrow for cars.”
Have ALL tourists walk. It's great exercise!— Kathy in VA (@M31Kathy) October 12, 2018
About time!— Christina (@NoTwitChris) October 12, 2018
Advocacy groups like The Donkey Sanctuary have taken to the internet, creating petitions lobbying for better living conditions for the donkeys. The same set of rules which set a weight-limit on riders also stipulates that the donkeys must be “exercised once a day for at least half an hour and have a continuous supply of drinking water.”
Some believe these new rules are ultimately not enough, however. Mimi Bekhechi, PETA UK’s director of international programs, told CNN:
Donkeys can still be forced to carry a person weighing 15 stone 10 pounds (100 kilograms) up more than 500 steep steps four to five times a day.
They could do one better and just ban donkey rides altogether but this is a great start!— Lisa (@lisaluu88) October 12, 2018
Twitter was glad to see the donkey’s conditions improved!
Absolutely!! They’re meant to carry small loads not people!! EVERYONE should walk no matter their size. Period.— Krista Marino (@mamamarino) October 10, 2018
Poor donkeys ?— Liv ? (@o_blitz) October 10, 2018
Good. I'd rather walk than hurt these beautiful creatures— Penny Taylor (@GhostWritingUSA) October 11, 2018
It's refreshing to see a news story that doesn't make me feel like the world is totally ending or that I want to lash out ballistically at a sleezy patriarchial figurehead.— Nicole Danbom (@joiedebris) October 12, 2018
Heroes!— boringfileclerk (@boringfileclerk) October 12, 2018
i've had a rough day, this is a spotlight! 🙂— Ari Bartz (@AriBartz417) October 12, 2018
As Santorini becomes more and more popular due to its beautiful sunsets and ease of access from cruise ships, the well-being of the donkeys who have always lived there should never be too far from the local’s minds.