V isitors go to Petra to marvel at its ancient monuments and temples, yet the “Lost City” has a dark and ugly side: More than 1,300 horses, donkeys, mules, and camels are forced to carry tourists or pull carriages in the city every day, and they are suffering terribly.
Handlers routinely whip and beat the animals as they haul tourists on a grueling 10-kilometer trek in the sweltering heat, and there’s no water or shade for them. Donkeys are forced to carry people up and down the 900 treacherously steep and eroded steps to the city’s iconic monastery. If they resist or falter, the beatings intensify. Authorities’ lack of interest in helping these animals is blatant: Indignant tourists are directed by the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority to report cruelty to animals by sending a message to an e-mail address that doesn’t even work.
Dr. Sameh Nabil, a veterinarian, writes, “A lot of people call donkeys stupid … however, the truth is far from it … donkeys have self-preservation, so if they are tired, or deem a situation too dangerous, that is when they become obstinate … because they value their life.” He goes on: “All they want in return is for us to be kind to them, treat them with compassion and dignity and kindness.”
As PETA Asia’s video shows, visitors who choose to ride one of these animals are directly contributing to their pain and misery.
Beaten and Broken
Handlers repeatedly hit the weary animals with anything at hand—including hard plastic pipes, ropes, chains, and whips—to keep them moving.
Even when they’re too exhausted to go on, they are viciously beaten. When one donkey balked at carrying more tourists after having just finished a tour, he was kicked in the stomach by his handler so hard that even a bystander recoiled, and although he attempted to escape the attack, he was tethered and unable to run away.
Hot and Thirsty
Despite working all day long in the desert heat, the animals are deprived of water until the end of the day when they return to the stables—where the only source of water in the Petra Archaeological Park is located.
Between rides, they’re kept tied up, with no shade or relief from the heat. Some are tied so tightly that they can’t even lie down but instead have to wait for the next paying customer standing up.
Wounded and Bleeding
Many of the animals had wounds caused by the chains and ropes tied tightly around them. A PETA Asia eyewitness saw camels forced to work even though they had fly-infested, open wounds caused by their bridles. Donkeys were seen with chains around their necks stained with blood from their injuries.
You Can Help Stop This!
Jordan can and must replace Petra’s working horses, donkeys, mules, and camels with modern motorized vehicles and spare them a lifetime of suffering. Please speak up for the working animals languishing in the ancient city by asking Jordan’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to ban their use at the historical site.