On Sunday (24 July), the working horse fainted from exhaustion amid the Europe-wide heatwave, and lay on a road in Palma while horrified tourists looked on.
Video captured at the scene shows the horse’s driver pulling at its reins to bring the animal back to its feet, after it passed out in Plaza Juan Carlos I at about 5pm.
Meanwhile, some bystanders brought the horse water and told passengers still sitting in the carriage to “get off”.
On Friday (29 July), Palma city council pledged to ban the horse-drawn carriages for tourism from 2024 – following a social media campaign that included footage of the incident filmed by members of the public.
It said it plans to replace them with electric vehicles, adding that this will ensure the safety and welfare of the horses as well as guarantee work for the drivers.
In the meantime, horses can no longer be forced to work on days when yellow, orange, or red heat warnings are in place.
Local pro-animal rights party Progreso en Verde tweeted one version of the footage that was filmed by a passer-by, writing: “Another horse collapses in Palma. Enough already!”
The horse in question will not be put back to work, the city council confirmed, as they have ordered the owner to send it to a vet. A council representative said it will undergo a full check-up on 2 August, local media has reported.
Mallorca’s authorities state that a carriage-pulling horse can be taken out of service if it “may affect transport safety, the health of the animal or hygienic-sanitary conditions”.
Nevertheless, some locals are planning to protest in Palma tomorrow (30 July).
The Progreso en Verde party, which has promoted the protest, said that they “remain very cautious” over the promises made by the council and that they will “continue working to make it a reality.”
Meanwhile, social media users have urged tourists to think about the impact that they would have on the horses.
A number of charities are campaigning for a ban on the horse-drawn carriages in many cities that still allow them.
Animal rights group Peta has called for an immediate ban in Mallorca, where it says dozens of horses are “forced to pull carriages laden with tourists through busy streets.”
It wrote in a petition to be sent to Mallorcan authorities: “Many of the debilitated animals collapse – especially in the summer, when temperatures regularly reach 35 degrees.
“Others get caught up in noisy traffic, which often leads to accidents – the honk of a car’s horn or even just an insect bite can be enough to trigger the horses’ instincts to bolt.”
A number of cities – including Oxford, Barcelona, New Delhi and Tel Aviv – have banned horse-drawn carriages altogether, while cities such as London, Paris, and Toronto no longer issue licences for them.
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