Donkeys in Santorini are about to see an improvement in their quality of life. Recent overtourism on the popular Greek Island hasn’t been easy on the resident donkeys, who are often tasked with carrying tourists up Santorini’s steep cliffs, bearing a significant amount of weight. The Donkey Sanctuary, in partnership with a Facebook group called “Help the Santorini Donkeys,” have called the donkey rides ethically unsound, as donkeys often carry loads that are too heavy for them, without proper shade, food, and water. They are also often put to work “12-hour days in 86-degree heat,” explains Condé Nast Traveler.
Upon meeting with animal welfare organizations on July 28th, Santorini’s lawmakers passed new legislation that limits how often the donkeys are allowed to work, as well as how much they can carry. It’s considered unsafe for donkeys to carry more than 20 percent of their body weight, which generally works out to about 112 pounds. The government has also promised that sufficient shade and water will be provided for the animals.
If you’re concerned that these beasts of burden are still a little too burdened, you can choose to avoid donkey rides altogether. As an alternative means of travel, take a 30-minute (600 steps) walk up to Fira, the island’s capital, or a (significantly more relaxing) cable car, which takes only two minutes.