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PETA’s work in Petra, Jordan, began soon after a first-of-its-kind PETA Asia eyewitness investigation into the extensive abuse of some 1,300 donkeys, horses, and camels in 2017. These eyewitnesses documented that donkeys, most of whom were malnourished and some even lame, were forced to climb 900 crumbling stone steps up to Petra’s monastery—all while enduring vicious whippings and beatings.

This grueling 5-mile trek was repeated five or more times a day, each time with the weight of a tourist on their back. There was no shade to provide relief from the relentless desert sun, and many animals didn’t even have access to water. Owners often ignored the animals’ injuries and declining health—even as flies infested their wounds and maggots ate away at their flesh. Instead of being treated with compassion and receiving care, they were jabbed with sharp sticks, whipped with rope or chains, and hit over the head to make them keep working no matter what.

This person is preparing to thrash the donkey he's riding.

This person is preparing to thrash the donkey he’s riding.

Even when not working, animals in Petra face the constant threat of violence. Bored children bash donkeys on the head with rocks and even push them off cliffs for “fun.” Those who aren’t killed outright are left to die slowly in the dust.

PETA Asia shared these findings with the local government, pleading with officials to take action to end this rampant abuse. Despite pledges by government officials to improve conditions for working animals, nothing had changed when the eyewitnesses returned in 2018—so we persisted. This time, officials gave PETA permission to open a clinic to provide injured, abused, and neglected animals with medical treatment. For this, at least, we thank them. You can read more about our clinic and its services here.