Camels are such an iconic part of Egypt, it’s not surprising that tourists visiting the country would want them to be part of the experience.
An industry of animal rides has existed around popular travel destinations like the Great Pyramids—but while this might be an exciting photo op for tourists, it’s not always harmless fun for the animals.
Not only are these camels, horses and donkeys forced to carry people around on their backs all day, but they are frequently mistreated by their owners. Last year PETA shared a graphic video of a carriage horse in Egypt being beaten by its owner.
But now, after years of controversy and outrage, Egypt is putting an end to this business.
According to PETA, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced plans to ban animal rides around the Giza pyramids.
The news was celebrated by the animal rights group, who has long lobbied for Egypt to end animal rides.
“Animal abuse has no place at Egypt’s majestic tourist destinations, and while this plan doesn’t ban all animal rides across the country, we’re thrilled by the progress,” PETA wrote.
Even tourists witnessed this animal cruelty go on during their visits to Egypt. A Hungarian tourist named Noémi Haszon was on vacation when she saw horses being whipped and denied water, even in the extreme heat.
“I was shocked,” Noémi told the New York Times. “Those poor horses. It was like another world.”
Returning home, she was inspired to start a petition to prevent this kind of cruelty, which gained 50,000 signatures. “This area is ‘hell on earth’ for carriage horses and camels. This horror must be stopped now.”
But the Times story noted that many locals relied on these animal rides for their income, an obstacle to banning the rides outright.
It isn’t clear when the new ban will take effect, or how it will impact the local tourist industry. But PETA says that the camel and horse rides will be replaced by electric cars and buses—a proposal that, according to the Times, was modeled after countries like Cambodia replacing their elephant rides with electric bikes.
Hopefully Egypt will be able to successfully put an end to this cruelty, creating a country that treats its native animals better.
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