The misery of the donkeys of Santorini


On the Greek island of donkeys are used to carry loads and tourists. However, many of the animals are mistreated and are in a desolate condition. Animal rights activists give the authorities a share in the guilt.

Picturesque narrow streets, whitewashed houses and stunning sunsets, Santorini is considered to be one of the most beautiful Islands of Greece. But the quiet tourist Paradise in the Aegean sea has also become the venue of a fierce dispute between animal rights activists and island residents. It is a question of donkey – you are one of the most important sources of income for the island, but it is also acutely threatened. Animal activists complain that they are being exploited and abused. In an accusatory report and a Video with shocking images, has accused the animal rights group “PETA” to the Greek authorities to cover up the “cruel” treatment of animals.

Tourists benefit from the suffering of the animals. Screenshot from a PETA Video

Attraction for the tourists

Decorated with colorful beads and ringing bells of the donkey, hundreds of travelers up transported every day, a steep and painful path of around 520 levels. To give the tourists an “authentic” Greek experience. At A Cost Of Six Euros.

But animal rights activists complain that the donkeys are kept on the island is bad and not healthy. “If one puts his Hand under the belt and saddles, you realize that you are full of open wounds,” says Maria Astraveni from the international animal rights network “Direct Actions Everywhere”. “Your reins and mouth pieces are sometimes soaked in blood. And if you break down, no longer able to make your owner, you just die and then replace by a younger donkey or a mule.”

According to the animal rights activist, the owners beat their animals to get them to transport up to 20 hours of the day, heavy Luggage, and tourists. The animals get themselves in the midday heat, hardly any water, food or sufficient rest breaks in the shade.

The donkeys have open wounds, in which the fly fixed

The starting point of the agonizing ascent of the port of the island. Every week around 40,000 tourists come here, many of them from Germany. And among the tourists is the key to success, is Astraveni says. “To bring the tradition business with the donkeys to a Halt, we must first bring the tourists to support the business.”In 2015, the abuse of animals has been appointed to a criminal Offence which can be punished with up to € 15,000 and five years in prison.

The abuse goes on

However, the activists did not criticize the local authorities on the island to protect the donkeys continue to be sufficient. Already a year ago there was fierce international criticism and even violent protests due to the poor treatment of the donkey. At that time, the Greek government responded and took immediate action. The see that ass holder bring your animals in suitable pens, and 30 minutes ride on the day of grant, and working with them at high temperatures must be restricted. The animals must not be loaded with a load of more than 100 pounds, or one-fifth of their body weight exceeds.

However, activists complain that the abuse of animals goes on, because not a holder has so far been punished. So far, nothing had “happened”, says the animal welfare activist Astraveni. She and other activists accuse the local authorities to ignore the fate of the donkey, but to even support the lucrative business with the animals. To passe also, that the authorities are posters of the animal prevented guards on buses and Taxis, the show an exhausted donkey and the inscription: “donkey suffering for tourists. Please refrain from riding.”

Poster campaign for the animal protection organisation PETA in Greece

Only the tip of the iceberg

Numerous campaigns have been fighting for years to save Santorini’s donkeys. But so far without success. As a result, the activists see themselves forced to increase the pressure and to even consider criminal action against local authorities. “We’re past the point, the owners of the donkeys have a better treatment of the animals suggest,” says Astraveni of the DW. “And for us, it’s also not about to make solely on the business with the tourist’s attention. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the criminal actions. We currently have incriminating evidence against the local authorities.”

The donkey for a long time were crucial for the infrastructure and the agriculture on the island. However, Greece’s transition to Modernity has for the animals high. Studies of the University of Athens show that your stock has fallen in the last half – century to slightly more than 96% of 508,000 in the year 1955 to approximately 12,000 in the year 2015. Of the remaining animals, about 2000 lives on the island of Santorini. The island is home to one of the largest donkey-communities of Greece. “The donkeys must be freed, otherwise they could become extinct,” says Astraveni.

Often, the donkeys have to carry much too heavy loads

Attempts of DW to contact the local authorities, repeated remained unnoticed. However, the mayor of Santorini Nikos Zorzos gave, as a response to the report of PETA a statement. In it, he said that the authorities adhere to the Greek law for the protection of animals. “Several organizations” have inspected the island and found that the animals were in good health. “We take care of your welfare”, he said and added that the municipality is not responsible for advertising campaigns in buses or Taxis, to intervene in the name of PETA.

The local donkey holder refuse, meanwhile, to their Eselsritte limit. They claim that their boom of the endangered original way of life of Santorini get business even.