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Donkeys on Santorini: Owners, local authorities agree on measures against abuse

After the shocking videos of donkeys abuse and the ugly incident where muleteers attacked animal rights activists, authorities on the island of Santorini finally decided to take measures for the protection of the troubled  and abused in many ways animals.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the Municipality of Santorini said that a meeting was held with representatives of animal welfare societies, animal rights group and animal owners with the aim to ensure “respect for the rights and the well-being of the donkeys.”

The statement said further that both groups have agreed on a series of measures including providing adequate shade during the hours waiting for customers and ensuring plenty of food and water.

Measures to be implemented immediately are:

  • extension of shade possibilities to protect the animals from the heat and the sun
  • improvement of facilities providing water

Animal owners agreed that the load donkeys carry is proportionate to their weight, and to limit the working hours.

Donkeys will be registered and micro-chipped provided funding will be found for this action.

Owners who mistreat their animals and do not implement the rules will be banned from the local union

The union representatives committed themselves to discipline owners who violate the rules and ultimately also ban them from the union.

An important owners’ request was the additional medical support for the donkeys with an ultrasound device. The animal rights activists committed themselves to find funds for it.

The Municipality committed itself to update the rules statute for the donkeys and mules on Santorini, the statement said.

The meeting was held with representatives of the local mules and donkeys owners union, the Pan-Hellenic Animal Welfare and Environmental Federation (CPVO) in cooperation with the
Hellenic Association for the Protection of Equidae and the activists’ group Dream Dancers.

The activists declared satisfied with the measures “as long as they are implemented,” the statement said.

The pictures were shot on Friday and Saturday and posted on social media by Konstantinou Lyrou. She is the activist who filmed the brutal attack on activists by muleteers on Friday.

Dream Dancers activists filed lawsuits against the attackers, the group said in a post on Facebook. The group cancelled its peaceful protest scheduled for Sunday as police would not secure their safety, they wrote.

Commenting on the Municipality statement, the group said that they will be closely monitoring that the agreed measures for the well-being of the donkeys are implemented.

The abuse of donkeys on Santorini has triggered an outrage both in Greece and abroad.

Several groups on social media have been calling on tourists to boycott Santorini until the situation of the donkeys is improved.

It looks as if the situation had to go totally out of control until locals finally move towards the right direction out of fear of revenue losses and a very ugly image of the iconic island abroad.

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  1. Your last sentence is telling; it is perfectly understandable that owners and muleteers are fearful of loss of revenue from any animal welfare measures. Clearly somebody has to pay for the improvements to the donkey’s welfare and I believe that has to be the tourists who use them. The donkeys provide a service that tourists want and they provide local colour that tourists want. If an additional fee were added to the price of the ticket and clearly shown as being for the welfare of the donkeys I think a majority of tourists would be happy to pay it to know the donkeys are being properly cared for. Alternatively the fee for the docking and/or landing of the cruise ships could be increased to pay for the donkey’s welfare. Such an increase would be passed on to their customers of course, but at the end of the day if tourists want donkeys on Santorini then the tourists have to pay for their welfare. There is no such thing as a free lunch……

    • keeptalkinggreece

      Excellent idea, an extra fee for donkeys’ welfare. Extra 0.25 or better 0.50 per ride and they soon can have ultrasound device, microchip etc.

      IF they improve their behavior & charge fee, next year each donkey will have its own vet 🙂

      The docking etc fee cannot happen —> bureaucracy 9money will go to central Athens, ministry blablablablalblablabla.

      collect locally, spend locally!

  2. The only problem with that argument is that the extra charge to tourists will go straight into the owners’ pockets without a guarantee of any of it being used to improve donkey welfare. The situation has to be continually monitored or it will all slip back when the fuss dies down.

  3. On Facebook page Help the Santorini Donkeys we have 16,000 plus members and followers who are fed up with the abuse and cruelty to the donkeys and dogs of Santorini, we have videos of the cruelty and beatings imposed on these gentle creatures. This Island is highly promoted as an extremely fashionable holiday destination and therefore should be cleaning up its dirty little secrets ! We have heard it all before when The Donkey Sanctuary UK visited Santorini, the Mayor Nikos Zorzos and the Donkey Owners agreed to install shade and water troughs on the steps for the exhausted donkeys, 3 years later absolutely nothing had been done ! The Donkey Owners still get a percentage of income from the cable car company as back in the 70’s it was deemed that the new Cable Car had taken a cut of their profits, but today their businesses are more than booming, earning hundreds if not thousands of Euros per day from the Donkey Taxi’s ! Their is no welfare for the donkeys, this needs to be addressed by the Mayor ! Not just talked about and then conveniently forgotten again ! Same as Mr Easy Jet ! Sir Stelios, wrote to a national newspaper stating he agreed with the dreadful abuse to the donkeys, he sees it for himself each year whilst holidaying on Santorini, his letter states that he will donate 34,000 Euros per year to the donkey welfare ? Not one Euro has been received ! He stated that he would give 1,400 Euros per donkey that was retired to the Sanctuary SAWA on Santorini, but a big question is ‘To whom will he give this money’ ?? To the greedy donkey owner or to the sanctuary to help feed and care for these exhausted animals. Again not one Euro has been received ! The Greek Authorities are so full of using words to say the right thing, but it never seems to be followed through ! Come on Sir Stelios put your money where y our mouth is ! Help these abused donkeys with all your millions, be the first Tour Operator to actually do something about this dirty little secret ! which……. by the way, is no longer a secret, the worlds tourist eyes are watching you NOW !

  4. End donkey riding it’s cruel in such conditions and people have legs they should not be lazy and use them ! Have a donkey sanctuary instead as an attraction that’s a win win sell food drinks and people can see donkeys taken care of properly —- Ban chucking sick donkeys overboard to drown ! Wtf thought of that ! Nasty lot. Cruelty for jobs is a nasty dirty trade wake up think of being better than that.

  5. I will be visiting in September. It makes me not want to come now that I have seen the abuse of these poor animals. I do not understand how the Greek government can allow this. I have seen animals with open sores and no water in the sun carrying HUGE TOURISTS. THIS IS CRIMINAL !!!!!

  6. I wouldn’t believe that any extra money collected would be spent on the welfare of the donkeys. The owners have shown what type of people they are and they’re certainly not animal lovers. I would not visit Santorini or any other place that treats animals so badly
    . “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Gandhi

  7. catherine stewart

    Santorini has always been at the top of my list to visit in the Greek Islands but the more I hear about the terrible animal abuse there the more I am put off.Why are the Greek people who I have always found the most honest and genuine people allowing this to happen.

  8. I visited the island a few weeks ago and instead of memories of a beautiful island left with nightmares about the poor donkeys panting in the full sun and working when obviously lame, some being hit on the head with sticks! American tourists were the main riders, probably in part due to cruise ship launches dropping them off opposite the donkey rather than cable car end of the pier. Cruise companies should warn off their passengers, I witnessed a guy holding a baby in his lap riding up the hill, seemingly oblivious to either the plight of the donkeys or the danger for his young child.
    This tourist attraction is having the opposite effect and putting off visitors, it is outdated and needs to stop.

  9. Come on mr easy jet where’s the money you’ve promised. Please help these poor donkey 😢😢

  10. Jayne Proudfoot Scott

    These beautiful innocent animals should not be abused for sake of profit for greedy ignorant owners or overweight tourists. It is criminal how they are treated and what happens to them at the end of their lives.
    Where is stelios and all his promises ?
    Surely ” Mr Easy jet ” can put his not inconsiderable fortune , where his mouth is and honour promises and also not only do a humane and kind act, but also promote his nation and perhaps improve a very tarnished image people have of Greece?


  12. I was in lindos Rhodes last week and the same thing goes on there the treatment of these poor animals is criminal it broke my heart watching huge fat lazy tourists being taken up to the acrop0lis on these poor animals in blistering heat no shade while waiting about and an old battered paint tin with a tiny amount of water in for about 20 donkeys it made me feel sick I’ve never seen a more heart breaking sight this barbaric out of date thing needs to be stopped

  13. Unfortunately, the article from what I have researched by the Daily Press was written a few years ago and republished for 2018. I have fact checked the Philosophical Association of Santorini where the donation was supposedly made by Mr. Stelios Hatzioannou, owner of Easy Jet and multi-billionaire according to Forbes does not exist. Mr. Stelios does have his own foundation called Stelios Philanthropic Foundation but in doing a thorough search there was never a mention of a donation made to the Island of Santorini for the Donkeys and their well-being. As a matter of fact, Santorini is not mentioned at all. Can someone from the Daily Press explain to our 16,000+ members on Help the Santorini Donkeys if this donation was ever made? It was a donation of 34,000 euro (small change for a billionaire) 1400 euro for medical care of each donkey, mule, horse? The FACT is that there is only one rescue shelter in Santorini run by Christina Kaloudi at Santorini Welfare Animal Association (SAWA) who has been there and faced terrible abuse for many years and she has confirmed that no donations have been made neither to her shelter or for the medical needs of the Donkeys by Mr. Stelios. Mr. Stelios also promised to donate 34,000 euro each and every year thereafter. We at Help the Santorini Donkey, SAWA, The Donkey Sanctuary U.K. and DreamDancers have a plethora of videos on the condition of these animals. The neglect, abuse and torture are indescribable. This weekend there were 3 different teams of animal advocates quitely protesting in Santorini one of which 8 members of the first team where attacked physically by 3 donkey owners with 2 landing in the hospital from terrible injuries. Complaints were filed the next day but members where met with disdain and laughter from municipality and Mayor Zerzos. We would all be grateful if Mr. Stelios would respond to our request for information. Reputable newspapers and reporters must seek the actual facts and follow up and Mr. Stelios (Easy Jet) should put his money where his mouth is!! Mr. Stelios please keep your PROMISE. You say that you love this Island and care for the welfare of the animals please do not go back on your promise now!!!! We will not relent. It has happened too many times before.

  14. Amanda Evans-Nash

    I will not step ONE FOOT on that island until this stops and, as a travel agent, I will persuade any customer who mentions going there against it and I shall tell them and show them exactly why!!!

  15. You posted the wrong info! In a photo with the donkey I can see my own feet! The activists who have been attacked did not sign anything! Our team, which struggles for the total release of the animals and received a wild assault, resulting in injuries such as myself and others, we did not sign anything!!! Correct it!!!! Our team called “Direct Action Everywhere- DxE” ! My 16 years old daughter who came to sing for the animals liberation was also hitted!!!!!

    • keeptalkinggreece

      we don’t right that activists signed anything. In first part of the post, we write what the the municipality statement says. Below the pictures we make reference to the attack activists we exposed to with links to the relevant post we covered. In this posts we refer to you and your daughter and with links.