Donkeys Suffer From Extreme Thirst, Dogs Struck Down With Rabies at Petra World Heritage Site

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In Petra, Jordan, a recent crisis has piled on the suffering for the donkeys who are used to carry tourists miles over dusty, rocky desert terrain. In the sweltering heat, the single water trough that could provide relief for these animals went dry, and no water truck came to fill it for five long days. The donkeys were forced to work without water as temperatures soared.

As if that weren’t distressing enough, a rabies outbreak among free-roaming dogs has jeopardized everyone’s safety, including that of working animals and their handlers.

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The PETA-supported veterinary clinic there called repeatedly to get authorities to act for the dehydrated donkeys. But sunbaked days passed without action to refill the trough. Imagine the misery these donkeys endured—already exhausted from hauling tourists and now enduring the torment of severe dehydration.

A tourist and a child sitting on a donkey's back

Finally, after many urgent appeals to authorities, someone listened. The trough was at last refilled, providing sweet relief.

This combined crisis is just the latest problem in Petra. The animals routinely endure beatings and wounds from ill-fitting saddles and the chains that dig into their muzzles, they eat plastic as they scavenge for food, and many become lame from the rocky ground. Tourists are to blame for wanting a “traditional” experience when locals should be encouraged to earn a living in other ways: with electric carts, a donkey and camel refuge that charges an entrance fee, guided tours on foot, and the sale of handicrafts.

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A yellow dog biting a pole

Clinic staff found six dogs with rabies in just one week, including two puppies. There is no cure, and death is slow and painful. This nightmarish disease attacks the brain, and dogs suffering from it can’t swallow or drink and stumble around with raving madness that often causes them to lash out, biting at humans, other animals, and even inanimate objects and the air. The team is urging the community to call its emergency line should anyone need help.

Prevention is key to controlling this ugly disease. And the PETA-supported team in Petra is vaccinating any dogs it encounters if it isn’t already too late.

How You Can Help PETA Spark Change for 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.

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

Two horses in Petra, Jordan

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