Tradition or animal cruelty? Or both? The donkeys of Santorini are symbolize different thing to different people. For the tourists, they are part of the “live your myth in Greece” experience, for the local muleteers they are a working tool, and for animal lovers they are modern slaves.
As the tourists arrive at the port of Santorini, they have three options: walk up to the town of Fira, take the cable car, or take a 500-step path up cobbles steps on the back of a donkey.
The Santorini donkeys work exhausting eight to ten hour shifts, in temperatures rising up to 40C, under the brutal Greek sun, with matted coats and exhausted. Most of them are not given water or food while they work, because those picturesque cobbled steps.
A video posted recently show two mules picking up and eating hay from their own feces and drinking their own urine to quench their thirst. Others stop to lick the stone walls that lie in shadow for vital moisture.
This is a tradition that has been going on for decades. After a viral article on Daily Mail about the Santorini donkeys, that pictured the truth about the situation form the animals point of view, highlighting that the efforts of the Donkey Sanctuary to educate the local on basic living conditions for the animals had no result, there has been a constant public outcry over the donkeys, mules and horses of the island.
Videos from citizens vacationing in Santorini, where donkeys are pictured being overloaded, beaten and abused come and go. The latest video showing a donkey being brutally beaten by its owner went viral and caused public rage.
From the 27th to the 29th of July, a protest demanding better living and health conditions for the animals was organized by Dreamdancers and the Panhellenic Animal Welfare and Environmental Federation, with the collaboration of other groups and charities, such as Direct Action Everywhere – Athens, Ε.Σ.Π.Ι. – Greek Horse Protection – official group (facebook), Ippothesis – Ιπποθεσις, Γαϊδουροχώρα Donkey’s Land, Γαϊδούρακια/Άλογα – Stop στην εκμετάλλευση/κακοποίηση, Animals Spirit Voice.
Video below: peaceful protesters being attacked by local muleteers
Αυτό είναι το κρατος και η παιδεία τους..Αισχος και ντροπη….
Posted by Konstantina Lyrou on Friday, July 27, 2018
As you can see in the video above, the peaceful protesters, including a 16 year old girl, were brutally attacked by the local muleteers, and many of them had to be hospitalized. The fights ended after the local police intervened, but since no one can guarantee the safety of the protesters, today’s and tomorrow’s protests will be cancelled.
The Panhellenic Animal Welfare and Environmental Association had a meeting with the mayor this morning, who has blocked all comments in his facebook page…
One last note: Muleteers and donkey “taxi drivers” will try to convince tourists that the only way to get to the town of Fira is riding a donkey or a mule, which is not true. You can also walk (which you probably wouldn’t) and you can also take the cable car.
Video below: two mules feeding off their feces in Santorini
Σαντορίνη 2018… Δυο "ανέμελα" και προφανώς νηστικά μουλάρια ξεδιαλέγουν και τρώνε τα χορταράκια μέσα απ τις ακαθαρσίες τους…μετά θα πιούν αντί για νερό τα κάτουρα τους μιας και δεν υπήρχε ίχνος νερού πουθενά στα σκαλάκια,παρ ότι μας περίμεναν…Ελάτε μαζί μας 27-28-29/7/2018 να το παλέψουμε…https://www.facebook.com/events/172818103388152/
Posted by Dreamdancers on Sunday, July 22, 2018
As for what will happen to all those animals if the tradition is banned, I don’t know. Nobody knows unfortunately. And no, they cannot be rehomed. They are too many and there are not enough facilities in Greece that can take them in.
You can sign the petition to stop the animal cruelty to Santorini donkeys here.