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News 10 Aug 17

Bulgaria Urged to Curb Horse-Drawn Carriages

Animal rights group PETA has called on Bulgaria to stop the use of horse-drawn carriages at tourist sites, warning that the horses are suffering during the ongoing heat wave.

Mariya Cheresheva
BIRN
Sofia
Photo: PETA

The German office of PETA said on Wednesday that animals are being “tortured” in Bulgaria in order to earn money from tourists, and demanded a ban.

The animal rights group warned that temperatures above 30 degrees Celcius are expected in the coming days, which will put the health of horses used to pull carriages in the country’s tourist resorts at serious risk.

“Horses are constantly collapsing out of exhaustion and even dying,” Peter Hofken, PETA’s adviser on the use of animals in the entertainment industry, told BIRN.

“It is high time for the politicians to put an end to this torture,” he added.

He said that he has received several reports from German tourists visiting Bulgaria who said they witnessed the degrading treatment of horses used to pull carriages.

PETA ultimately wants the use of horse-drawn carriages at tourist attractions to be prohibited altogether.

“There is nothing romantic in forcing these sensitive animals to pull carriages... in scorching heat, storms, rain or cold,” Hofken said.

The extraordinary heat wave, dubbed ‘Lucifer’, which has gripped parts of Europe, causing fires, damaging crops and killing several people, is still keeping the Balkans on alert.

The meteorological institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences issued a yellow alert for dangerous heat on Wednesday, warning that temperatures could reach up to 39 degrees in the coming days.

According to PETA, temperatures around and above 30 degrees torment horses, and their excessive exposure to the sun could cause them to suffer sunburn or even sunstrokes.

Horse-drawn carriages are still a popular attraction for tourists in Bulgaria, mostly in the big resorts on the Black Sea coast.

But some cities like London and Paris have already banned their use for tourism purposes, Hofken said.

He added that the mayors of Berlin and Rome are also planning to impose similar measures.

“We believe that horses belong to the countryside, on the green grass and under the shade of trees, not in the middle of the cities,” Hofken said.

On August 1, Austria’s capital Vienna, which is well-known for its horse-drawn carriages, imposed a temporary ban on the service due to the extreme heat. 

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