Holidaymakers over 12.5 stone banned from donkey rides in Spanish village

Helen Coffey
Donkey taxis are popular in Mijas Pueblo: Getty Images
Donkey taxis are popular in Mijas Pueblo: Getty Images

A village in Spain has announced it will no longer allow holidaymakers who weigh more than 80kg (12.5 stone) to ride its donkeys.

Mijas Pueblo on the Costa del Sol is famed for its burro-taxis, or donkey taxis, but has come under pressure in recent years to better protect the animals’ welfare.

The local council has said it will introduce the ban by 1 January, following a consultation period.

Better veterinary care and hygiene for the donkeys will also be brought in.

“We are very happy to have reached this point, where the concept of animal welfare is incorporated with specific measures,” Veronica Sanchez, director of Donkey refuge El Refugio del Burrito, told local press.

The local authorities have worked with donkey owners, drivers and animal welfare associations and charities to come up with the new legislation.

A Donkey Sanctuary spokesperson said: “Although The Donkey Sanctuary does not actively promote the use of donkeys and mules in any form of tourism; we do welcome the new regulations imposed by the Mijas authorities to help improve the welfare of working donkeys. We also welcome a commitment by the authorities to conduct inspections and enforce the regulations.”

The move comes after animal rights charity Peta Germany released video of donkeys in Santorini being beaten.

The animals are used as taxis to take visitors up the 520-step cliffside path to the town of Fira on the Greek island, and in recent years there have been calls to improve their working conditions.

The footage, which Peta claims was filmed in September 2019, shows donkeys with open sores due to ill-fitting saddles, makeshift girths and chains and muzzles around their noses instead of bridles.

The video also reveals that the animals are sometimes beaten with sticks by their handlers and are prone to stumbling on the slippery path, endangering nearby tourists who are on foot.

“It’s a disgrace that gentle donkeys and mules are still being whipped and marched into the ground as they’re forced to work day in and day out with no relief from the hot sun,” says Peta Director Elisa Allen. “Peta is calling on tourists to steer clear of these hideously cruel rides and urging Greek authorities to step up and stop this abuse.”

Last year, the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food banned any person weighing over 100 kilograms from riding on donkeys, following a global appeal.

Earlier this year, following public outcry about overweight tourists using donkey taxis, CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) backed The Donkey Sanctuary’s campaign to protect working donkeys and mules in holiday hotspots.

Cruise passengers were shown a video giving tips on how to be a responsible tourist when it comes to donkey taxis, while information leaflets were also distributed on board liners docking in Santorini.

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