Horses pull a carriage of tourists in Instanbul. Hurriyet Daily News photo.

Electric vehicles replace horse drawn carriages in Istanbul

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has bought electric vehicles to be used on the Princes’ Islands (Adalar), off Istanbul’s coast, after a ban on horse-drawn carriages as a result of the killing of dozens of horses due to an outbreak of glanders and years-long animal rights activism against what advocates called the ill-treatment of horses.

Two different types of electric vehicles are expected to come into service this week.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said on Dec. 23, 2019 that the Princes’ Islands would no longer offer visitors horse-drawn carriage rides, undoubtedly the islands’ most popular tourist attraction.

A significant number of residents of Istanbul and animal lovers are happy that electric vehicles are put into service after the banning of horse-drawn carriages, which were the only means of transportation.

Photos shared on social media had stirred the anger of the public, seeing the horses trying to climb steep slopes in the summer heat and dying due to thirst and neglect.

Hundreds of horses working on the islands were dying every year. A report from the AFP prepared by journalists who visited the stables exposed that the conditions horses lived in were terrible. Bones of dead horses were found nearby. 

“Veteran horses will no longer be left to die,” one user tweeted, referring to the horses collapsing and dying while drawing a carriage.

But there are some who are not satisfied with the introduction of electric vehicles due to their appearances.

“It could have been more authentic. I saw more of those similar to phaeton abroad. We are very pleased with the island, but it should have been more nostalgic,” said Murat Horman, a Büyükada resident.

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