PETRA, JORDAN – In an understanding reached between Jordan’s minister of tourism and antiquities, Lina Annab; His Excellency Falah Omoush, chief commissioner of the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority; and Saudi Arabian Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed of KBW Investments, major improvements will be made at Petra that should help preserve the site’s steps, lay to rest international complaints from visitors, and end the beatings and other abusive conditions shown in PETA Asia’s recent video expose of the city’s tourist industry.
The memorandum of understanding includes plans for the introduction of eco-friendly electric vehicles to carry tourists and the installation of modern animal clinics, where the animals would receive regular veterinary care. Other plans include new water stations to ensure that animals have access to fresh drinking water and a prohibition on forcing animals to walk dangerous paths or carry heavy loads.
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“This is a historic moment in both the preservation of Petra’s steps and the protection of animals,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, “and all those involved should be recognized for their actions.”
PETA Asia’s expose revealed that mules and donkeys are forced to climb 900 steps up to a monastery and down again with visitors on their backs, while horses are forced to pull carriages on grueling 6-mile treks through the ancient city multiple times a day. The expose also showed men and boys repeatedly hitting exhausted animals with ropes, chains, and whips to keep them moving. Bloodstained chains and ropes dug into the animals’ necks, and camels suffered from open, fly-infested wounds. They were seen crying out as their mouths were forcibly bound shut by men. Between rides, animals were tied so tightly that they couldn’t even lie down, and many seemed to suffer visibly from untreated lameness, colic, and exhaustion.