Horrifying video shows donkeys being whipped, beaten as they're forced to carry overweight tourists in scorching heat
The horrific conditions suffered by approximately 100 donkeys and mules every day on the Greek island of Santorini were laid bare in a new report published by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The donkeys and mules are used to carry heavy loads—including overweight tourists, are given no respite from the scorching Mediterranean sun, and are even denied access to water, according to the report.
The practice of using donkeys and mules as "taxis" to transport tourists up more than 500 steps to the old town of Firá, in particular, has been labeled the most inhumane considering how a cable car has been operating nearby for decades.
According to the Daily Mail, the introduction of the cable cars initially saw a reduction in travelers using donkeys to climb the steps but, as tourism to the island increased with an estimated 17,000 visit Santorini each day, the demand for donkey rides also grew.
The animals are reportedly forced to make the strenuous climb up and down the steps four or five times a day, seven days a week, carrying passengers that weigh much more than the recommended limit of 110 pounds—donkeys should not carry more than 20% of their body weight—because of "profit-driven owners."
This often places great stress on the animals' backs and joints, and can have grave consequences for the animals. If they become too weak to carry on with their work, they're often abandoned and left to die.
PETA said that animal welfare laws in the country mandate that the animals have access to water and protection from the weather, but that many used for rides are tied to a wall or rail for hours in the "blistering summer sun" without water.
They get no rest at night either and are forced to haul heavy bags of garbage left behind by the hoards of tourists.
Owners also use sticks and whips to drive the donkeys and mules on when they stop on the step, they said, with one instance seeing the animal pulled by the reins and then violently beaten with a stick.
Many of the animals on the island suffer from deep wounds and abrasions from their ill-fitting saddles. And because they are continually irritated by the equipment, the deep wounds can’t heal properly, which can lead to long-term pain.
Furthermore, eyewitnesses have said they have seen untreated wounds teeming with flies on some animals’ heads.
And despite their treatment constituting a "clear breach of Greek animal-welfare laws," the animals' owners and local authorities still hold onto the "tradition" of riding donkeys PETA alleged.
They also alleged that the illegal conditions are "tolerated" by the authorities who are in charge of enforcing the laws.
Watch the horrific conditions under which the donkeys of Santorini live here: