The Greek holiday mecca of Santorini has passed a new rule banning overweight tourists from riding iconic donkey’s

Greece has just passed an unusual new law that imposes a ban on tourists deemed overweight on the island of Santorini.

Specifically, the law bans tourists who weigh more than 100kg from riding on donkeys, an iconic and very popular activity on the holiday island.

It’s just one of several new laws from Greece’s Ministry of Rural Development and Food aiming to protect Santorini’s donkeys.

The move comes after strong calls from animal rights groups, who say the donkeys have been suffering spinal injuries, open sores and stress as a result of carrying tourists.

The animals are used to climb the steep coastal cliff to Santorini’s capital of Fira.

And they don’t stop.

During peak tourist season, animals rights groups say the donkeys work for seven days a week with little time for water, food or rest.

Animal welfare groups say donkeys have been suffering under the weight of increasingly obese tourists. Picture: Caters News AgencySource:Caters News Agency

In a statement earlier this year, the animal welfare group The Donkey Sanctuary said it was “dismayed by the conditions” its staff saw in Santorini earlier this year.

“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,” the group said.

A petition, called “Stop Animal Abuse of Donkeys and Horses in Santorini,” has attracted more than 108,000 signatures.

Tourists often ride donkeys around Santorini for a ‘real Greek’ experience.Source:Caters News Agency

“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,” the petition said.

“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.”

According to the new laws, donkeys on rides in Santorini should not carry loads heavier than 100kg, or one fifth of their weight.

Injuries from a saddle. Picture: Caters News AgencySource:Caters News Agency

“The owners of working (donkeys) should ensure that the animals’ level of health is high,” a government statement read.

“Under no circumstances should be used animals unfit for work ie, ill animal, injured, animals in an advanced pregnancy as well as animals with poor maintenance of hoofs.

“The animals should be given appropriate and adequate food and fresh drinking water daily, into containers which cannot be contaminated and are cleaned at least once a day.

“Working equines should not be loaded with excessive weight for their size, age or physical condition. The load cannot exceed the weight of 100kg, or one fifth of their body weight.”