Santorini donkeys will certainly welcome the news with some happy “hee-haw”: overweight tourists are no longer permitted to ride them, which is the result of a long campaign by activists to lighten the animals’ load. On Wednesday, the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food passed the new law, which states that donkeys cannot “be loaded with excessive weight for their size, age, or physical condition. The load cannot exceed the weight of 100 kilograms, or one fifth of their body weight.” This means that if you weigh over 220 pounds, you’ll be hoofing it up Santorini’s cliffs on your own.
Paying to ride donkeys up the city’s slopes is a common tourist draw, but sightseers have put a dangerous burden on the animals. In recent years, Santorini has received several complaints about the living conditions of the donkeys, including a petition that received over 100,000 signatures, demanding an end to the donkey rides.
This rule change comes after a successful meeting in July between animal welfare societies and the Municipality of Santorini. Lawmakers agreed that steps needed to be taken to improve the hard-working donkeys’ quality of life, and weight restrictions are just the beginning. The new law also states that, “under no circumstances should be used animals unfit for work, i.e. ill animals, injured, animals in an advanced pregnancy, as well as animals with poor maintenance of hooves.” It also requires that donkeys are regularly provided with clean food and drinking water.