Τhis idyllic grief of Santorini

Everyone is aware of the vegan ethics, according to which it is unacceptable to exploit animals for food, clothes or entertainment. I suppose that, thanks to our tummy, the first one is the hardest one because nobody wants to change what they eat. 



However, the second and third ones are easier for a non-vegan to accept. Some agree that fur is hideous, others agree that circus is a bad thing and some others find dolphin shows a really disgusting idea. Of course, to agree that we shouldn't exploit animals, should include other activities as well, which most people don't even think about. Pet shops, zoos and caged tropical birds are some examples. 



One of these activities, maybe one of the most barbaric, has been taking place for a really long time at the beautiful island of Santorini and, despite the ridiculous allegations pointing to a tradition or a "folklore" image, it is something we should be ashamed for.

It's all about the "agogiates", a term that euphemistically describes some scumbags who enslave and exploit animals for their own profit. They sell "tradition" to tourists, forcing donkeys to carry them and climb about 600 stairs, from the island's port to the mainland.

These folks are apparently organized into some kind of union and most people consider them to be wage earners, hard workers, but nobody says the obvious - that animals do the hard work, not them. Greek state has passed laws, regulating the number of donkeys each of them can exploit, which is very weird since the same country has valid today laws strictly prohibiting animal abuse. I will assume then, that these donkeys are not being abused. Maybe they went there on vacation and, since they didn't have enough money they asked to work as carriers, to pay their hotel.

From 7am until the sunset, which is pretty much the same like the Cheops pyramid's slaves, these donkeys are forced to climb hundreds of stairs, carrying all kinds of idiots with cameras. Battered, dirty, with wounded feet, open wounds and severe psychological and behavioral problems, these beautiful creatures endure slavery for a few years, until they collapse from fatigue and hardships. Their exploiters constantly beat them in order to go faster because, you know, the money is good and there's no time to waste. It is also obvious that there are no sheds, breaks or medical care. The donkeys work ceaselessly under Santorini's burning sun and the rest - if any - is only defined solely by the customers' flow rate.

Resting time for these animals, as usually happens in Greece, is a tight lacing inside a sunny grassy field and a bucket of water.

Mrs. Christina Kaloudi, which is in charge of the local Animal Welfare union, has said that donkeys in Santorini are about 2,000 and 360 of them work as "tourist taxis". There you go. Listen to how these people perceive animals: Taxis.



Unfortunately, viciousness and contempt for these animals does not stop there. It extends to the inhabitants as well.

There used to be an animal shelter in Karterados village, run by the Animal Welfare union and the city hall. The exploiters, after they have driven the animals to their last breath, would just go and ditch them somewhere outside the shelter. People in the shelter would of course do anything they could to provide care for these animals, even for their last years or months. Many donkeys died even the next day after welcomed to the shelter. Volunteers in the shelter have reported that many donkeys hesitate to come close to humans, even six years after they were freed.
  
It looks like the locals couldn't stand this shelter close to them. They don't have a problem with the exploitation of these animals, but they do feel annoyed by their smell, noise or even existence. So, the local community decided to sue the Municipality and demand that the shelter moves away from them. I do feel like, for them, the best solution would be to throw the animals in the sea. Mrs. Kaloudi's words are very horrifying: 

They would often close the only road that leads to the shelter, making it impossible for the aquifer truck to access the place, to remove dead animals and the volunteers to drive there. We are based in an area outside the town belonging to the municipality of Thira and we don't disturb anyone. These donkeys and mules, who worked tirelessly to develop this island are going to be homeless; stray dogs will form herds and, half of them won't survive because they are puppies. This is not flattering to the two million visitors of our island.

Unfortunately, i don't know if the shelter still exists. In the trial, which took place last November, the Animal Welfare union was festively acquitted and one clerk was punished with a 59 euros fine. What is important, is that despite the misery of these animals, some locals don't want them around, even if they are so close to the end of their lives and worked so hard against their will.
 
I just can't hold myself together and not mention for the umpteenth time the vegan approach of such issues.
    
While most people discuss "solutions" for things like where to ditch the exhausted animals after their relentless exploitation, where they should be housed or how many donkeys one has the right to use, for a vegan the only and the most appropriate solution is the abolition of this corny, barbaric and shameful "profession". The laws about animal abuse should be extended to all animals, protecting them from all sorts of clowns who want to rest their asses on the back of someone and be carried to the top of Everest under the burning sun.

Don't get me wrong. This is NOT a boycott post. I'm not asking you to avoid visiting Santorini, which happens to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. 

But you must boycott animal abuse of all kinds. Next time you're visiting Santorini, please remember that apart from the donkeys, there is also a cool cable car. Or, if you're up for some climbing, do me a favor and climb these stairs yourself. When you arrive at the top, you will definitely feel what the animals feel.






This is a post from a Greek vegan blog. It was translated in English due to popular demand to help non-Greek people realize what is happening to the these beautiful animals. If you speak Greek, you are welcome to visit and like our Facebook page.