Santorini Authorities Deny Accusations of Animal Mistreatment



The proposed PETA ad campaign for the Greek island of Santorini. Photo by PETA

Authorities on Greece’s Santorini Island clarified in a letter sent exclusively to the Greek Reporter on Wednesday that ”no written application from a foreign organization (PETA) has been submitted to the Municipality of Thera (Santorini) in relation an ad campaign.”

The ongoing issue had surfaced again last Saturday, when the famous US-based animal rights organization PETA accused local authorities on the island of Santorini of banning an ad campaign they had organized to express concern for the way donkeys are treated on the island.

”The Municipality is against any mistreatment of the animals,” Santorini authorities told the Greek Reporter, ”but not against labor conducted by these animals under the appropriate conditions.”

”In any case of mistreatment, the Police department of Thera (Santorini) is called, which then locates the owner of the animal and enforces what law dictates,” the authorities added.

According to PETA, the municipality of Santorini ”refused to allow an ad campaign that shows an exhausted donkey next to the words ‘Donkeys Suffer for Tourists – Please Don’t Ride Them,’ to be run on local buses and taxis.”

The organization claims that the ads were intended to be placed on vehicles across the island in time for peak tourist season, but because many Santorini taxi and bus owners also own donkeys, the authorities decided not to issue the necessary authorization to run the ads.

Santorini authorities told the Greek Reporter that the animals are checked by a veterinarian every year before the start of the tourist season, ”who certifies their good health conditions.”

”The animals stay under the shade in the area where they work and they have always access to water,” the island Municipality maintained.

Recently, PETA revealed that in Firá, a village on Santorini, handlers dragged animals down the steps from the port to the old town and whipped and hit them with sticks to make them continue walking.

For this reason, protests were organized outside of Greece’s embassies around the world, including those in Washington, London and Paris.

Recently, a new law was introduced by the Greek government which prevents owners of donkeys and mules on Santorini from burdening their animals with more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of weight.

However, scientists claim that donkeys shouldn’t carry more than one-fifth of their body weight, which is approximately fifty kilograms, or 110 pounds.

In its letter to the Greek Reporter, the municipality of the island noted that most of the animals that work there are mules weighing between 450 and 900 kilograms (204 to 408 pounds) and donkeys weighing between 300 and 400 kilograms (136 to 181 pounds).”

PETA, or ”People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals” is a US-based animal rights organization out of Norfolk, Virginia. Established in 1980, it claims to have more than 6.5 million members and supporters. It has campaigned against donkey and mule exploitation on Santorini for years.