Santorini bans obese tourists from donkey rides

The government of Greece has listened to activists and passed an unusual law limiting riders’ maximum weight to 100 kg

Traditional donkey rides on the Greek island of Santorini will no longer be for everybody. The country’s government has decided to listen to calls from animal rights activists and to ban obese people from the iconic attraction.

Tourists wanting to experience the iconic donkey ride have to weigh less than 100 kg — Marco Bicci / Shutterstock. Santorini bans obese tourists from donkey rides — Marco Bicci / Shutterstock.
Tourists wanting to experience the iconic donkey ride must weigh less than 100 kg — Marco Bicci / Shutterstock.

Greece’s ministry of rural development and food has implemented a set of regulations that restrict the maximum weight a donkey can bear to 100 kg in total.

The new measure follows calls from activists on the island claiming donkeys were forced to carry ever-heavier loads for long hours, while they weren’t provided with decent conditions.

“With the holiday season coming into full swing, exhausted donkeys and mules are spending long days in the scorching sun, carrying tourists or heavy and harmful rubbish loads, with little to no water, food or shade,” said the most vocal animal protection group, the Donkey Sanctuary, in July.

The groups claimed that the donkeys were suffering even more as the tourists were becoming larger and larger, with the most obese visitors coming mostly from the US, UK and Russia.

"Working equines should not be loaded with excessive weight for their size, age or physical condition." — Shutterstock
“Working equines should not be loaded with excessive weight for their size, age or physical condition” — Shutterstock

With the unusual law, the government has therefore pledged to protect the quality of life of the animals and to unify the conditions for donkey owners.

“The owners of working equidae should ensure that the animals’ level of health is high. There should also be disinfection materials in their living quarters and workstations,” the ministry said in a bulletin.

“Under no circumstances should be used animals unfit for work, ie ill animal, injured, animals in an advanced pregnancy as well as animals with poor maintenance of hooves.

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

“Working equines should not be loaded with excessive weight for their size, age or physical condition. The load cannot exceed the weight of 100 kg, or one fifth of their body weight.”