Why You Should Think Twice Before Riding a Donkey in Santorini
The island partnered with the cruise-line industry to launch a new campaign titled, “in their hooves” to educate tourists on the physical and mental stress put on the animals as they climb the steep hillsides with humans on their backs.
According to Insider, the campaign launched after locals noticed more donkeys were sustaining spinal injuries, saddle sores, and exhaustion.
“Representatives from the cruise liner association were here in my office this week promising to raise awareness [of the problem] and from our side we’ll be distributing information leaflets,” Nikos Zorzos, the island’s mayor, said in a statement, according to The Guardian. “Our mules and donkeys are part of our tradition. Younger owners, especially, have understood that they need to be looked after.”
Santorini also took the unprecedented step to make it illegal for owners of the donkeys to allow animals to carry more than 220 lbs of either humans or cargo. That weight limit, Insider noted, is about one-fifth of the donkey's weight.
Thankfully, the donkeys are not the only way up the steep hills of Santorini.
“Cruise passengers basically have three ways of ascension. They can go by foot, cable car, donkey or mule,” Council spokesperson Evangelia Konsta told The Guardian.
Officials and campaign managers are hoping the new “in their hooves” initiative will have tourists thinking twice about riding donkeys.
So, next time you’re in the gorgeous island, maybe make sure to pack a comfortable pair of shoes and hoof it up the mountainside yourself. (Don’t worry, you can still ask nicely to pet the donkeys along the way too.)