Mijas town hall's announcement of new regulations to control the conditions of the animals providing Mijas Pueblo's traditional Burro-Taxi service has, far from being praised, revived calls from animal rights activists for an end to the tourist rides.
Manuel and Salvador have been driving the Burro-Taxis in Mijas all their lives, having inherited the job from their parents. When asked about this new controversy they explained how they are tired of the attacks on social media.
"They post photos of obese people on donkeys which weren't even taken in Mijas. The strange thing is we've only ever received one or two complaints to our faces," said the pair. It's clear from social media that the donkey taxis cause indignation among animal rights campaigners, although many of the photos posted are taken in Greece. A few hours watching the Mijas donkeys reveals that more than 90 per cent of the riders are small children; adults ride in the donkey-pulled carriages.
According to Manuel and Salvador, the donkeys only give three or four rides each a day and the route does not involve steep slopes, although they do walk to and from their stables to the village centre.
The local council, which studied the new regulations with the president of the Malaga law society and the Refugio del Burrito shelter, has defended the service, which dates back to the early days of tourism in the 1960s.
"We like having this as our symbol and that's why we are taking care of it," said local councillor Nuria Rodríguez. She said that the donkeys' conditions had improved in recent years and that the aim of the new regulations was simply to put on paper what is already being done in practice.