Each summer, we receive a whole lot of alerts of tourists that come back from Greece complaining about the dire conditions in which donkeys are kept and used.
Donkeys are extremely popular with the countless tourists who visit Greek islands every summer. They are one of the iconic features of the islands, and donkey rides are commonly considered part of the ‘real Greek experience’.
But for the donkey, it’s no fun.
Most Greek islands are difficult to climb with their small streets and staircases; therefore, many tourists choose to do the ascent on a donkey’s back. Donkeys (and mules as well) are coerced into carrying tourists, their luggage and belongings. When they are exhausted, the owners often hit them with sticks to get them to hurry.
Donkeys in Greek islands are not treated humanely and their owners have no respect for them. They are forced to work and stand the whole day in the beating sun deprived of shade, rest, water or food. Donkey rides usually begin early in the morning and never finish before sunset.
During low season, donkeys are also used by local people to carry heavy loads such as construction materials for houses.
Because of the heavy loads they have to carry during their lifetime, most donkeys suffer from back problems and have their spinal cord damaged. When they are no longer profitable because injured or too old to work, owners just abandon them and leave them die alone.
The web is teeming with pictures and videos that document the repeated acts of mistreatment of these animals.
And yet despite this, tourists continue to act as accessories in this cruel form of animal exploitation, while local authorities are doing nothing to stop the lucrative business of donkey rides.
The key to busting this tradition is to get the tourist to stop feeding this business. Tourist have the chance to play a crucial role in putting a complete stop to this intolerable tradition.
Travel responsibly and don’t be part of this abuse! Donkeys shouldn’t be used as tourist attractions. Find another way to get to your hotel or to go wherever you need to. Choose a responsible mode of transport; consider walking or taking a cable car!