Between the 8th and 9th of June 2017, Kleopatra and Aris, members of our Equine Project team, were on the volcanic island of Santorini where they provided care to 41 equids. Kleo and Aris examined and treated the retired donkeys and mules of the SAWA shelter, which is the only one on the island. Once the visit to SAWA was complete, the team set off across Santorini, offering its services to other equids in need.
In addition to seeing the animals, the team met with the owners of the ones that work carrying tourists up the steep and winding track of the Caldera, to assess working conditions. Every year we receive complaints from travellers about the ‘cruelty’ suffered by the caldera equids, so we make sure we send our professionals to Santorini regularly. They always take the opportunity to identify issues and express any concerns they may have regarding the animals’ welfare. These matters need to be handled with sensitivity and respect, nevertheless our team always seeks to identify and demonstrate new ways to make the lives of the caldera mules and donkeys better. Aiming to reinforce this effort, on this occasion Kleo and Aris also met with the local authorities and discussed with them the island’s welfare controls and the need for improvements to be made to the infrastructure provided for the animals.
Our grateful thanks go to The Donkey Sanctuary, which funded our visit, and many thanks also to the Gerolymatos company for offering the team a much-appreciated dinner. Our long-time collaborator, local vet, Margarita Valvi, once again provided seamless support for the organisation of our stay.