Finally, Costa del Sol town imposes weight limit on donkey rides

For decades, they have transported tourists through the narrow cobbled streets lined with whitewashed houses in the picturesque hilltop town of Mijas on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

Finally, Costa del Sol town imposes weight limit on donkey rides
Photo: Katerina7chuya/Depositphotos

The traditional “donkey taxis” have been running since the 1960s when local farmers worked out that tourists would pay to be transported by their beasts of burden on tours round the village.

But finally after years of campaigning, the town hall is poised to introduce a raft of new measures to improve the welfare of the town’s donkeys and that includes setting a weight limit on what they are allowed to carry.

The new bylaws will ban anyone over the weight of 80kg (12 and a half stone) from taking the donkey taxi, in what is being viewed as a compromise between animal rights activists who want the donkey taxis outlawed altogether and the muleteers whose livelihoods depend on the them.

The new measures, which will be effective from 2020 depending on a public consultation and final council vote, will introduce regular veterinary checks and improved welfare conditions with compulsory rest breaks, shade and refreshments and an improved stabling area.

One of the key points is a ban on anyone riding the donkey if they weigh in at over 80kg.

Animals rights groups claim the animals should not carry anything over a third of their own body weight.

The measures were drawn up “in consultation with both the muleteers and different animal welfare groups,” explained Nicolás Cruz, the local Councillor for Transportation and Mobility in Mijas.


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‘Gratuitous cruelty’: Spain probes suspected abuse at animal testing lab

Spanish police and prosecutors said Monday they were investigating an animal testing lab after undercover footage showed staff there tossing around, smacking and taunting dogs, pigs and other animals.

'Gratuitous cruelty': Spain probes suspected abuse at animal testing lab
Handout: Cruelty Free International

“We were dismayed to see the images,” the head of the government’s directorate-general for animal protection, Sergio Garcia Torres, told AFP.

“It is a blatant case of animal abuse.”

Footage published Thursday by Cruelty Free International shows appears to show animals at the Vivotecnia animal testing facility being cut into apparently without having received anaesthetics.

Staff were also filmed swinging dogs and rats around and in one clip someone is drawing a face on a monkey’s genitals as the animal is pinned to a table.

The group said the footage was taken by a whistleblower who worked at the facility, which is on the outskirts of Madrid, between 2018 and 2020.

“There can be no doubt that such gratuitous cruelty causes unnecessary distress and suffering,” the animal rights group said in a statement.

“It is also unlawful.”

Police and public prosecutors said Monday they had opened separate investigations into Vivotecnia, which carries out experiments on animals for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries.

The company’s phone number was no longer working on Monday and its web site was down for maintenance.

In a statement cited by Spanish media, Vivotecnia chief executive Andres Konig said he was “shocked” at the images. But, he added, they did not “demonstrate the day-to-day reality at Vivotecnia”.

Following the outcry caused by the release of the footage, the Madrid regional government on Sunday temporarily halted activity at the animal testing facility.

Animal rights political party PACMA has filed a lawsuit against the managers of the company and urged the government to step up its supervision of animal testing.

“It’s a very opaque world and it could be that this is happening regularly without us knowing,” PACMA president Laura Duarte told AFP.

The Vivotecnia laboratory animals were examined by veterinarians and are being moved to other facilities.