The Greek island of Santorini is a popular tourist spot on a hilly terrain. But as more and more tourists head to the picturesque spot, the brunt is falling on the mules in the area. The hefty and heavy tourists are crippling the mules and donkeys by their weight and the owners are thus crossbreeding their animals to make them sturdy. The desperate owners wanting to make money off tourism have resorted to such measures to make their animals strong.
Mules and donkeys have been traditionally used for commuting around the tourist spot and in the summer months from May to October, thousands of tourists come on the scenic island. In the steeper areas, there are no vehicles so donkeys and mules are preferred to carry their loads and luggage. So the animals are not only carrying heavier weights of the people but also the saddle fittings are not proper, causing injuries to many of them.
Several animal activists have stepped in to address the cause and they point out to the growing obesity as also one of the culprit. These animals have no fixed hours of work and their wounds remain uncovered, only causing more pain. At times they are also not properly fed. Now there are increasing cases of crossbreeding, to make them stronger. The Help the Santorini Donkeys charity is working towards the cause. One of their spokespeople said, "It's recommended that animals should carry no more than 20 per cent of their own body weight. 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."
The Santorini Animal Welfare too have voiced their agreement in the bad condition of these donkeys. A volunteer informed how these donkeys are working throughout the year and not just in the tourist season. An international code of practice was also signed in the year 2008 but there is no enforcement body to regulate it. While the activists are working towards the cause, it is time, the tourists pay heed to their actions.