In a sweeping move for equine rights, the Greek island of Santorini has formally banned "obese" tourists weighing over 220 pounds from riding local donkeys, after outcry from animal rights activists won worldwide media attention and backlash in recent months.
- The owners of working donkeys should ensure that the animals' level of health is high, with disinfection materials available in their living quarters and workstations.
Now, obese tourists in Greece have been banned from riding donkeys after animal rights campaigners raised concerns.
Activists have fought against the practice, saying that letting the donkeys carry heavy tourists amounts to animal cruelty.
"These donkeys are forced to stand around in the sun in their own faeces at the side of the path and all they do is go up and down, up and down carrying people who are too lazy to just walk or take cable auto".
"The obese and overweight tourists, combined with the lack of shade and water, as well as the sheer heat and 568 cobbled steps, is what is causing such a problem", a spokesman for the group told Yahoo7 News. "Despite our long-standing efforts, we were dismayed by the conditions we witnessed", the organization's website said.
Now lawmakers in Greece have responded by issuing the new guidelines.
The regulations also made it clear that animals not fit for work should not be used and they should get adequate food and fresh water.
"Working equines should not be loaded with excessive weight for their size, age or physical condition", reads a bulletin created by Greece's Ministry of Rural Development and Food.
Elisavet Chatzi, 45, a volunteer from Athens who participated in a peaceful protest in Santorini over donkeys' treatment there earlier this year, said: "It's a very big step, I think all our hard work has paid off".
Also thanks to the new regulation it is forbidden to carry tourists on pregnant donkeys and sick donkeys.
Other advocacy groups don't believe this new law is enough.