The Smiths icon Johnny Marr appealed to Greek Minister of Tourism Thanasis Theocharopoulos last month to put an end to cruel animal “taxi” rides in Santorini.
In the letter (available here), Marr points out that, as was exposed by PETA, donkeys and mules are forced to transport tourists – many of whom are British – up more than 500 steep steps, several times a day, from the port to the old town of Firá. When not being made to carry extremely heavy loads on their backs, they’re often tethered in the blazing sun without access to water or shade. He goes on to urge the minister to “please, put an end to this old-school practice of using animals as ‘beasts of burden’ and encourage tourists to use the port’s cable car – or their own two feet – Instead.”
The appeal follows a PETA eyewitness exposé revealing the horrific conditions that donkeys and mules endure every day on the Greek island. Video footage shows handlers dragging animals down the steps and whipping and hitting them with sticks to make them continue walking. A new law passed this year prevents owners from burdening their donkeys with weights exceeding 100 kilograms, even though, according to veterinary recommendations, donkeys shouldn’t carry more than 20% of their body weight – approximately 50 kilograms.