Ban The Carriage Horse Transport to Morskie Oko Lake in the Tatra National Park in Poland
1. To whom:
Director of the Tatra National Park, Mr. Szymon Ziobrowski
Head of the Tatra County (the starosta), Mr. Andrzej Gąsienica-Makowski
That transport by horse-drawn carriage on the route to Morskie Oko lake is discontinued.
3. Why is it important:
Morskie Oko is a special place in the Polish Tatra Mountains. "The Wall Street Journal" describes it as "a hidden gem" and has listed it among the five most beautiful lakes in the world. Sadly, in its vicinity, with the permission of local authorities as well as the authorities of the Tatra National Park, animals have been suffering for years.
Since the early 1990s, Tatra National Park has offered tourists the option to ride up to Morskie Oko lake in a carriage drawn by a pair of horses. As of April 2014, the Park's regulations allow this vehicle to carry at one time 12 adults, 5 children under the age of 4, and luggage (previously this was 14 adults and earlier even 30). Estimates are that the weight of the carriage with tourists can reach as much as 2 tonnes. One uphill trip for the horse means constant effort on a stretch of some 7,5 kilometres, on a slope with an average grade of 3.5 degrees, which however may be as much as 8 degrees in places. The downhill drive is not easier, because the carriage brakes are often faulty and the horses must themselves reduce the speed of the carriage. Moreover, the horses work in all weathers, heatwaves included.
Events in recent years have shown that these are literally MURDEROUS work conditions. In 2009, for the first time was documented on video the death of a horse which had pulled a carriage with tourists up to the lake. Jordek (this was the horse's name) was only 6 years old. Although the incident received much media attention and caused a scandal in the whole country, no changes were introduced to the transport system on the Morskie Oko route.
In 2012 another horse - Cygon - collapsed, exhausted with the effort of pulling a carriage uphill. He was not even allowed to rest for a few days. His owner sold him for slaughter, later attempting to cover up this fact. Cygon's owner declared that the horse had become "too lazy".
The most recent death took place on August 10, 2014. 7-year-old Jukon had been working on the Morskie Oko route only for 4 months. He was pulling a carriage loaded with people when he suddenly collapsed. He died of a heart attack.
Sadly, there have been many more such incidents and although they are drastic and much publicised, the real picture truly appears when one considers the statistics of the working time of the horses. In May 2012 data was collected to the effect that
- 35% horses worked 1 season,
- 38% horses worked 2 seasons,
- 27% horses worked more than 2 seasons.
The conclusion is that more than two thirds of the animals are replaced after two seasons at most!
The horses are exploited so much that their health deteriorates rapidly and prevents them from working hard. Then they are usually sold to the slaughterhouse.
In spite of the wave of public protest, involvement of media, many people and organisations, until this day it has not been possible to bring about any real change. The reduction of the weight of the carriages has not given the expected results - the horses still die. And they will continue to die, because they cannot work for long in such extreme conditions. That is why we are appealing to the Director of the Tatra National Park and the starosta of the Tatra County to end permanently transport by horse-drawn carriage on the route to Morskie Oko lake. We believe it is the only proper solution.
VIVA! Vegetarians International Voice for Animals,
Coalition To Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages
to Morskie Oko Lake
Tatra Foundation for Animal Protection (TTOnZ)
Foundation for Animal Protection IUS ANIMALIA
Stowarzyszenie Obrona Zwierząt