I used to ride a Shetland pony when I was a kid, until one day he decided to pitch me into the bushes. He said enough and the message came loud and clear— “I am not the riding type!”
Most people don’t know that it is inhumane to ride a donkey, but it’s true. Donkeys (like ponies) are not big enough to accommodate excess weight and by ignoring it, many donkeys have experienced further health-related complications.
Travel writer Heather Newgen encountered this while vacationing in Greece in her blog, “Three Reasons Why I Didn’t Ride a Donkey in Greece.” She learned about the situation when she volunteered at the Corfu Donkey Rescue on Corfu.
“Donkeys in Greece, specifically Santorini, which is known for its steep hilly terrain, are used to transport tourists and their belongings up an average of 500 stairs at least three to four times a day in extreme conditions. They’re grossly mistreated and without regulations in place, animal abuse is literally crippling and killing the donkeys.
For those who have been to Greece, you know what I’m talking about when I say it’s literally one of the most beautiful places in the world. Its natural beauty, food, locals and culture make Greece one of the most visited tourist destinations.
But there’s an ugly side to the country—animal abuse. There’s a lot of mistreatment of donkeys. I understand on certain islands like Santorini, it seems like a fun, touristy thing to ride a donkey packed with your luggage up hundreds—literally hundreds—of steep windy stairs to get to your hotel, or just for fun. But for the donkey, it’s not fun.
Donkeys are forced to stand in the beating sun without shade, rest, water or food. They’re whipped and yelled at constantly, and while there’s finally been a ban on overweight tourists riding them, their work conditions are still unacceptable.
When I was in Santorini, I told a guy trying to sell rides to tourists that I didn’t appreciate the treatment of the donkeys. He told me, “Donkeys have been doing this for years.” Well, that doesn’t make it right.
And sadly, when the donkeys are injured or too old to work, many owners will abandon them in a field to die alone, or push them off a cliff because they’re no longer profitable or useful.
So please think twice about riding the donkeys and don’t be a part of the problem. If people stopped riding them, this service wouldn’t be offered. A touristy thing to do in Santorini is watch the sunset in Firá or Oia, not ride donkeys. That’s just what people want you to think so they can make money literally off the backs of these animals. There are other ways to get to your hotel or where you need to go.”
Horses are meant for riding and donkeys provide a plethora of other services, such as providing security for people who own farms and ranches, and providing amazing companions for people and other dogs. You would not try to ride your dog, right? Think of it the same way.
At Oscar’s Place, our donkeys will never be ridden. It’s just that simple. If you have any feedback, please post a comment here and we’ll bray at you when we can!
Sources: Ask.com and Heather Newgren