Greek donkeys no longer in heavyweight class thanks to hefty tourist ban

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The regulations state that donkeys giving rides to tourists should not be made to carry load weighing more than 100 kg.

However, there is no telling how this new law will be enforced in Santorini and in other parts of Greece.

Town officials in Santorini had already agreed to set work limits for the donkeys, but new rules from the government's Ministry of Rural Development and Food require even more protections.

"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 Donkey Sanctuary, an animal welfare group.

The Greek government has stepped in after complaints that donkeys on the island of Santorini were being crippled by overweight tourists.

While this is a small victory for Santorini's animal charities, they say the island's donkeys are still overworked, and forced to carry heavy loads of garbage or building equipment up and down Fira's steps all day long.

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"Despite the fact that it's only a 30 minute walk ... or two minutes by cable auto, these donkeys are used as cruel transportation for people who want the "real Greek" experience", the petition said.

The regulations, which do not apply only to the popular holiday island, also prohibit owners from using donkeys that are infirm, pregnant or badly shod, while also compelling them to ensure that their donkeys are well fed and watered.

"Under no circumstances should be used animals unfit for work i.e., ill animal, injured, animals in an advanced pregnancy as well as animals with poor maintenance of hooves". "This situation continues to Santorini for many years and can not be solved in one day, but we won the fight thanks to the attention of the worldwide media towards this issue", she added.

While use of animals for certain purposes has been going on for ages, animal rights activists are now calling for an end to abuse.

Maria Skourta, 42, the leader of the Athens branch of Direct Action Everywhere, claims: "We were content with the bulletin because the goal of our organisation is to bring matters to light and initiate conversation".

Activists have fought against the practice, saying that letting the donkeys carry heavy tourists amounts to animal cruelty.

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