The future of Petra

Our work with horses, donkeys and their owners in Petra Park in Jordan is a clear example of how our continually evolving approach to animal welfare is making a long-term impact and changing the way people think about and treat their animals

How we started working in Petra

Brooke's Princess Alia Veterinary Clinic was established in Petra Park in 1988. Brooke vets provided free treatment combined with awareness-raising and training interventions, and succeeded in raising the welfare standards of equines in Petra considerably. Incidences of harmful traditional practices (such as killing of colts at birth, the use of car oil for treating injuries and wounds, firing to cure lameness and nostril-slitting to help breathing) are now virtually non-existent and we dramatically reduced malnutrition, dehydration and exhaustion. As tourism grew in Petra, so did the income of those providing services to tourists – including equine owners.

Handing over responsibility

In April 2010 we handed over the running of the clinic to the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and changed our approach to focus on transferring animal welfare knowledge and building capacity and responsibility of all stakeholders (including government vets, animal owners and Park authorities). After the handover, the clinic vets completed a two-year Brooke training programme so standards could be maintained.

What's happening now?

Today, professional farriery is provided by the Horse Owners Association (HOA), and harnessing and saddler services have been introduced. Local owners now have a good knowledge of first aid, how to prevent illness and injury and how to care for their sick animals. Water troughs and shade shelters provided by Brooke are now managed by local authorities and humane euthanasia is carried out on severely ill equines.

A better future for the working animals of Petra

In 2014 an independent review showed we had successfully achieved lasting positive change to the welfare of working carriage and riding horses in Petra Park. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of local authorities, partners and owners, we are able to enter the final phase of our work in Petra.

In this final phase, we are prioritising working donkeys where further welfare improvements are still possible. To achieve this we are funding a part-time community engagement post with PDTRA based within the donkey owning community of Um Sayhoun. This is an important development because it will ensure that working donkey welfare is integrated with other key community issues and local government plans.

Additionally, we are funding a part-time campaign coordinator with PDTRA to develop the next stage of the Care for Petra campaign to reach more tourists before they arrive.

As a result of this success, we were able to close our office in Petra. This was a major step forward in empowering local authorities and sustainable working equine welfare services for generations to come.

If you have any complaints or concerns about working animals in Petra, please contact the Petra Archaeological Park.

Facts and figures


9,795 (Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), 2011). The largest concentration of equines (1,350) are in the Petra region with 700 working regularly in Petra Park.

Population of Jordan

7.5 million (HDI, 2015 (Human Development Reports, Jordan)