No summer would be complete without a gentle donkey ride on the beach with a stick of Blackpool Rock in one hand and a whole load of unemployment and limited opportunity in the other.
Once you get a bit older though you start to realise that said donkeys don’t actually look that happy with their work. Granted, nobody likes their job and we all love to moan about our place of work, but I think donkeys have a fair case when they’re lugging round fat tourists all day long.
However, it turns out that Blackpool donkeys aren’t the only kind of ass suffering this cruel injustice, as the donkeys of Santorini – you know, that overly-Instagrammed tourist destination in Greece – are also facing the same issue.
Many tourists opt to travel via donkey up the island’s famously steep steps (there’s 520 on a cliff-side path to the town of Fira), seeing it an authentic part of their holiday experience.
But with up to 17,000 tourists heading to the island from cruise ships each day, people have finally said enough’s enough, as a campaign has been launched to urge tourists not to accept the gruelling rides and get off their fat asses and walk.
That’s because holidaymakers are getting bigger every year and the poor old donkeys are increasingly suffering with spinal problems, saddle sores and exhaustion in the 30°C weather.
Santorini mayor, Nikos Zorzos, told The Guardian:
“The campaign is about to start,
Representatives from the cruise liner association were here in my office this week promising to raise awareness [of the problem] and from our side we’ll be distributing information leaflets.
Our mules and donkeys are part of our tradition. Younger owners, especially, have understood that they need to be looked after.”
According to The Guardian, The Donkey Sanctuary’s spokesman Catherine Rice said:
“Our In Their Hooves campaign aims to encourage tourists to stop and think before using donkey taxis to climb the steep steps at Fira port.
It suggests holidaymakers consider whether donkeys and mules are being treated humanely, have enough shade and water, as well as whether loads they are being asked to carry are suitable. If not, other options, such as walking or taking a cable car, might be a more responsible mode of transport.”
I think it’s a great move – these people are clearly overweight and the exercise could do them good.
Failing that, and you physically can’t walk, there is the option of a five-cabin cable car so really there’s no complaints.
I hope that most people will see this as a good thing but you’re bound to get the odd person saying: ‘they’re donkeys, they’ve done that for years.’
Doesn’t make it right though, does it?
Here’s to all the donkeys of the world – formerly known as nature’s taxis.
Images via Getty/Caters