Ban Sought on Forcing Exhausted and Abused Horses, Mules, Donkeys, and Camels to Haul Tourists Through Historic City

For Immediate Release:
23 January 2018

Tel Aviv, Israel – Today, PETA issued a “travel advisory” calling on tourists, many of whom travel via Israel, to steer clear of Petra, Jordan. The reason? A new PETA investigation into of the city’s tourism industry revealed that more than 1,300 donkeys, camels, mules, and horses are routinely beaten and whipped to force them to haul visitors on their backs or in carriages in blistering heat without shade or water. The exposé can be seen here.

The shocking footage shows men, and even boys, hitting the exhausted animals repeatedly with plastic pipes, ropes, metal chains, and whips to keep them moving. Blood-stained chains and ropes dig into the animals’ necks, and camels can be seen with open, fly-infested wounds that are caused when handlers aggressively yank at their bridles. The video also shows one handler viciously kicking a donkey in the stomach – causing a bystander to recoil – after the animal shied away from carrying more tourists after just having finished a tour.

“It’s an outright disgrace that weak, wounded animals in Petra are being hit and whipped and denied water and shade in the desert heat every single day,” says PETA Vice President of International Campaigns Jason Baker. “PETA is calling on residents of Israel to stay away from Petra until these exhausted animals are replaced with modern conveyances, such as golf carts, so that tourists can appreciate the city’s rich history without witnessing cruelty to animals, which can ruin a trip and blight the country’s reputation.”

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” – notes that mules and donkeys are forced to climb the 900 steps to the monastery and down again with visitors on their backs and that horses are made pull carriages on gruelling 10-kilometre treks through the ancient city multiple times a day. Between rides, the animals are tied so tightly that they can’t even lie down and are forced to stand in the sun until the next customer comes along. Often, the animals appear to be receiving no veterinary or farrier care, and many suffer visibly from apparent lameness, colic, and exhaustion.

Because a sign erected under public pressure by the Petra Development & Tourism Region Authority advises visitors to send any cruelty-to-animals complaints to an e-mail address that doesn’t even work, PETA has written to hundreds of travel agencies and hotels in the area appealing for their help. Their response has been clear: they’re not going to promote Petra until animals are replaced with motorized vehicles.

For more information, please visit High-resolution photos can be viewed here, and the video footage can be downloaded here.