Donkeys have long been a traditional transportation method on Santorini, but a new campaign is encouraging visitors to the popular Greek island to reconsider these potentially harmful rides. Most travellers arrive to the island by boat and ascend hundreds of steps to reach the main town, which is set 400 metres above sea level. Although it’s possible to walk up the steps or travel via cable car, many visitors choose to ride donkeys up the steep cliffside.
An increasing number of reports of donkeys suffering from spinal injuries, saddle sores and exhaustion, however, has prompted U.K.-based charity the Donkey Sanctuary to launch a campaign discouraging tourists from riding the overworked animals. The Donkey Sanctuary has partnered with local authorities in Santorini for the awareness campaign, In Their Hooves, which includes a video that calls for visitors to look closely at the donkeys’ working conditions before choosing to ride them.
The campaign is supported by the Cruise Lines International Association, which has pledged to show the video to passengers en route to the island. The Donkey Sanctuary will also continue working with Santorini to provide training for local equine health service providers as well as education for donkey owners, with the goal of improving living conditions for the animals.