The Donkey Sanctuary and its partner, Greek Animal Welfare Fund/Animal Action Hellas (GAWF), held positive talks on 24 August with the Mayor of Santorini, Anastasios-Nikolaos Zorzos, who has pledged to improve the conditions for working equines on the Greek island.
A team from The Donkey Sanctuary and GAWF was on the island from 19 to 25 August assessing the welfare, working conditions and socio-economic value of the donkeys and mules on Santorini. The data collected is currently being analysed: in general, the body and hoof condition of the equines was found to be largely good but all parties acknowledged there are areas requiring improvement.
At the meeting, Mr Zorzos confirmed his commitment to improving the key areas of concern around the working conditions of the donkeys and mules on the island identified by the two charities.
The improvements include to:
1. Extend the shelter at the top of Fira Port steps to protect equine taxis from the sun
2. Install a permanent, free-flowing water trough at the top of Fira Port steps to hydrate working animals
3. Repair and extend the shelter, and install a permanent water trough at the bottom of Fira Port steps
4. Revise and simplify the code of practice for working equines on the island and to harmonise it with new European directives within the framework of Greek law
5. Support training sessions organised by The Donkey Sanctuary later in 2018.
The Mayor pledged that all of these improvements will be implemented in time for the next tourism season on the island. The Donkey Sanctuary and GAWF will monitor progress in follow-up visits.
Barbara Massa, regional director of Europe at The Donkey Sanctuary, said: "We are all extremely pleased with the willingness of Mr Zorzos to take this time-bound action, his positive response to our future collaboration and for giving us the opportunity to offer our expert equine welfare advice."
Kleopatra Triantafyllou, equine veterinarian at GAWF, said: “During our visit we spent time with many equine owners, all of whom were very supportive of our work and are looking to the Mayor to follow through on these commitments and increase the level of regulation enforcement.”
The Donkey Sanctuary and GAWF recognise that donkeys and mules form an important part of the social, cultural heritage and economic foundations in Santorini and are keen to encourage visitors to make an informed decision about their suitability to ride an animal as well as the suitability of the animal to be ridden.