British online publication dailymail.com.uk reports on the move by animal rights groups in Greece to ban the use of donkeys hauling tourists over 520 cobbled steps. The piece presents the plight of the donkeys “that are marched from fields at dawn for their gruelling shifts in temperatures that are regularly more than 86F (30C) has been labelled barbaric and ‘Santorini’s grubby little secret’”
Heads bowed, a line of donkeys waits resignedly for its next turn to haul a cruise ship passenger from the harbour to one of the most picturesque tourist destinations in the world.
Every day, the donkeys of Santorini will make four or five return journeys up 520 wide, cobbled steps on the switchback path that leads to the town of Fira and its iconic whitewashed buildings and blue-domed roofs. The practice has been going on for decades.
The plight of the donkeys that are marched from fields at dawn for their gruelling shifts in temperatures that are regularly more than 86F (30C) has been labelled barbaric and ‘Santorini’s grubby little secret’.
Some donkeys, their coats matted with sweat, stop to lick the stone walls that lie in shadow for vital moisture as little is supplied to them during their eight to ten hours on the cliff face.
Animal welfare workers were visiting the Greek island this week to plead for better conditions for the animals and to educate owners about the health dangers to animals that are forced to climb a combined distance of 60 miles during a season, treading over a quarter of a million of the cobbled steps which feature in holiday and cruise line excursion brochures.
Santorini, a beautiful island formed from volcanic action, attracts two million tourists a year and is a daily stop-off for cruise ships. Thousands of British tourists are among the 40,000 that are ferried from their luxury liners to the harbourside at the foot of a 1,000 feet climb every week.
They are immediately hustled by hawkers for the €6 donkey ride up to the top of the cliff before they can reach a cable car alternative that has a 24 passenger capacity.
read more at dailymail.co.uk