‘Overweight’ tourists in Greece are being banned from riding donkeys

The donkey ride is a popular way to get around the hilly island

The donkey ride is a popular way to get around the hilly island

"The load can not exceed the weight of 100kg, or one fifth of their body weight".

Throughout Greece and its islands, donkeys are used as a popular means of transportation among tourists.

In recent days, the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food announced a new set of rules regulating conditions for the working donkeys of Santorini, most notably forbidding the equines from carrying any loads - including people - over 220 pounds, roughly one-fifth of their weight.

This decision was taken after statements by the defenders of animals that the donkey is very hard to carry such a burden and for this reason they receive many injuries of the spine.

You'll have to carry yourself around Santorini, after Greece moved to ban overweight tourists from hitching rides astride donkeys.

The donkeys have traditionally been used to carry tourists around the famously hilly island with its hundreds of cobbled steps.

Animal rights advocacy groups such as the aforementioned one publicized the maltreatment of these Greek donkeys and garnered tremendous media attention, which in turn prompted the influx of complaints made to Greek government officials.

Working donkeys, mules and horses "should not be burdened with loads that are excessive to their size, age and physical condition".

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Metro.co.uk reported that ministry's new set of regulations state that the owners will have to ensure the animals are healthy to work and are provided adequate food and water daily.

"The animals should be given appropriate and adequate food and fresh drinking water daily, into containers which can not be contaminated and are cleaned at least once a day".

In an attempt to raise awareness, PETA started a petition called 'Donkeys on Santorini Abused and Used as Taxis: Please Help Them!'

Not all activists believe the new guidelines will effectively prevent animal suffering.

Maria Skourta, leader of the Athens branch of Direct Action Everywhere - the same group which was legally restrained from protesting outside a Whole Foods - says that although the new law definitely has brought the donkey mistreatment issue to light, the donkeys are still forced to carry cement, appliances, and all sorts of heavyweights even with the regulations in place.

"But our goal is not to improve the lives of slaves, it's to free them entirely".

Activists have fought against the practice, saying that letting the donkeys carry heavy tourists amounts to animal cruelty.

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