Parched and Overworked: Desert Donkeys’ New Struggle

In the arid expanse of Petra, Jordan, a new crisis is unfolding that underscores the harsh realities faced by the region’s working animals. As tourists flock to this ancient desert city, the gentle donkeys that tirelessly transport visitors up the 900 crumbling stone steps to the famed monastery are enduring unimaginable suffering. With the government’s failure to maintain the sole water trough, these animals are left to battle extreme dehydration under the relentless sun, where temperatures soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. For two agonizing weeks, the trough has remained dry, exacerbating the risk of painful colic and potentially fatal heatstroke.

Handlers, desperate to quench their animals’ thirst, are forced to lead the donkeys to a distant water source plagued by leeches, which pose additional health risks. Despite urgent appeals and a formal letter from PETA, authorities have yet to address the dire situation. Meanwhile, clinic staff are doing their utmost to alleviate the donkeys’ suffering, but without immediate government intervention, the plight of these hardworking animals remains a scorching, deadly nightmare.

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If you’ve ever visited the ancient desert city of Petra, Jordan, you’ve likely witnessed immense animal suffering. Gentle donkeys forced to haul tourists up 900 crumbling stone steps to the famed monastery are living a scorching, deadly nightmare with the government’s failure to fill the one and only water trough.

The trough has been bone-dry for two weeks as temperatures soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Dehydration is a huge problem for these working donkeys, as is searingly painful colic and potentially fatal heatstroke unless we can get the government to act now.

A broken trough set in a rock wall

Some handlers take parched donkeys to the only other water source they can find—a distant spot on the road into Petra that’s teeming with leeches who can get into the animals’ mouths and cause not just discomfort but also respiratory distress.

Despite appeals and a formal letter from PETA, authorities have failed to remedy the situation. But clinic staff members are doing all they can to help these suffering animals until access to clean water is available again.

How You Can Help Animals in Petra

Travelers anywhere in the world should be careful to avoid any activities that exploit animals and only support travel companies that swiftly remove such cruel attractions from their offerings. The donkeys, camels, horses, and other animals still used as if it were another century deserve compassion and peace as much as any human being. Until meaningful change is achieved, these nightmarish emergencies will continue.

An encumbered donkey in Petra

The PETA-supported veterinary clinic in Petra is a lifeline for suffering animals. Please make a gift to our Global Compassion Fund to allow this and other vital work to continue in order to provide relief to desperate animals.

Support PETA’s Global Compassion Fund Today!

Two encumbered equines

Notice: This content was initially published on and may not necessarily reflect the views of the Humane Foundation.

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