The exploitation of animals for tourism, sadly, comes in many forms. The highest-profile exploitation occurs around elephants. But other animals a carrying a huge burden too. Literally.
Animal welfare agencies say overweight holidaymakers are crippling donkeys on the hugely popular Greek island of Santorini.
Chief among these are British tourists, who along with countless visitors to the island ride the donkeys up hundreds of steps when they should apparently be carrying 20% of their body weight.
According to The Mirror, locals have even started cross-breeding stronger mules to cater to the heavier tourists.
“Obese and overweight tourists combined with the lack of shade and water, heat and cobbled steps is what’s causing such a problem,” a spokesman for charity Help the Santorini Donkeys told The Mirror.
“There should be a weight restriction. With donkeys it should be no more than eight stone, but how would that be imposed?”
It is claimed that some donkeys make four to five trips up the 500-plus steps to capital Fira town as cruise ships unload swarms of visitors every day.
Santorini Animal Welfare Association founder Christina Kaloudi said the number of overweight US, British and Russian tourists has trebled, meaning “donkeys are pretty much in work year-round”.
“They are made to work in terrible conditions without adequate water, shelter or rest, and then I find them tied outside my shelter, barely alive.”