Working donkeys and mules on the Greek island of Santorini are being hurt by overweight tourists riding on them, according to reports.
The area, which is a hotbed of tourism, boasts a number of the animals who carry tourists up and down hills all day, in a bid to recreate the 'real Greek' experience. But this is hugely problematic for the animals.
"The weight put on an animal should be no more than 20 per cent of [its own] weight. This means they should be carrying maximum loads of eight stone. But it's not just tourists that are too heavy for the animals. Workers force the donkeys to carry all kinds of items. I have seen them carrying huge cement blocks and even a washing machine."
And other groups have also voiced concern: a statement from welfare group, The Donkey Sanctuary, said: "Exhausted donkeys and mules are spending long days in the scorching sun, carrying tourists or heavy and harmful rubbish loads, with little to no water, food or shade.
"With this disappointing evidence, now is the time to increase our efforts to support the needs of these diligent donkeys and mules. The Donkey Sanctuary is committed to bringing about sustainable change.
"Our first step will be to call an urgent meeting with the Greek government alongside our partners, to discuss the welfare of working equines in Greece, offering them our support and technical expertise to immediately address welfare needs."
The animals are abused and forced to cary people who don't want to walk
A petition calling for the end of donkey and mule use and abuse on the island has garnered more than 80,000 signatures so far. According to the founders of the document: "Despite the fact that it's only a 30-minute walk, or two minutes by cable car, these donkeys are used as cruel transportation for people who want the 'real Greek' experience.
"These donkeys are forced to stand around in the sun in their own faeces at the side of the path and all they do is go up and down, up and down carrying people who are too lazy to just walk or take cable car. In addition, the farmers give them lashings to make them go faster up the path when carrying tourists etc.
"I'm so so saddened by this, even old donkeys who have probably been doing this all their lives haven't been given to the shelters yet. So if you ever go to Santorini - or any other place that offers rides on animals such as donkeys or elephants etc. please, please do not support this mindless and unnecessary animal torture."