Dear Blog Readers —
I realize I risk boring you with my continuing posts on Marrakech, but my daughter Chiara insisted that I do a post using the photos that I took of animals in Marrakech which I would sum as the easy and tough life for animals in Marrakech. Anyone who has travelled in the some of the poorer countries of the world know that animals can get the best and the worst of treatment. In the United States and Europe people take their dogs to shrinks and put sun-screen on their noses when they take them to the beach (this is true, my veterinarian friend Alessandra loaned me some dog sun-screen to put on my daughters the other day). Doggie hair salons and luxury hotels are spreading in the West. In both Northern India and the Philippines I have been in the back seat of cars that have hit dogs running out of villages and kept on going. In one case, I got upset and all the other people in car were laughing telling me that they would have a feast in the village that night– roast dog.
In Rome, I have covered animal rights groups throwing fake blood against the windows of the Fendi store on the chic Via Condotti to protest against their business in expensive fur coats, and have covered activists at the cat sanctuary at Rome’s Torre Argentina, I have also covered battles between activists and Roman carriage drivers who take tourists in horse carriages thorough the streets of Rome. In Rome, cats are pretty close to sacred and are allowed to do whatever they want, likewise in India, Hindus believe cows are sacred and let them roam where they wish, blocking traffic and enjoying themselves.
Similarly, Morocco has animals that get the best treatment and some that get the worst. The little donkey above pulling the cart probably does not have the easiest of lives, and nor do the horses below. The ones who have the easy life in Marrakech are the storks.
From guide books and Googling I’ve learned some of their beliefs. Moroccans believe that storks bring good luck and happiness and a nest on the roof of your home brings good luck. According to the Berber belief storks are humans turned into birds. Because the storks migrate from Europe to Africa and remain in couples who return to the same nests, they have come to symbolize strength, prosperity and love. Apparently it is a punishable offence to harm a stork or its nest. I read in one place that the punishment is a three month prison sentence, but I have not confirmed this. Nevertheless, the storks are ubiquitous in Marrakech, their long beaks and scraggly legs hopping around the tops of their gigantic nests.
The best place to photograph them is at the ruins of what once must have been the spectacular El Badi Palace built by Sultan Mansour in 1578.
I wandered through what once must have been stunning courtyards and pavilions, past now empty reflecting pools, looking up at the gawky creatures perched around the tops of the walls and towers.
Marrakech’s main square the Jemaa el Fna is filled with various types of animals. I thought this monkey on a chain with its trainer seemed a bit sad.
One morning I saw a similar monkey jump on the back of a friendly tourist, snatch off his sunglasses and toss them on the ground.
I had a chat with a group of snake charmers who would offer up a show for whoever was willing to pay. Instead I paid one of them, Reda, to take some close-up photos of the snakes for me.
Reda was eager to put a water snake around my neck which I did not want. Then he squatted down and snapped a few photos of the cobra and the python for me.
The cobra snapped at Reda as he squatted to take the picture. Reda, hopped backwards in his flip flops with remarkable speed and agility.
Finally, ever since I took a two-week camel trek in the desert in Kenya, I have been amused by the stubborn personality of most camels.
I did not go for a ride, but I did snap this photo of a smiling camel near the Menara Gardens in Marrakech.
Blog readers, I am curious to hear your tales of sacred cows, spoiled poodles, Holy Cats and beasts of burden. What as been your experience with good and bad treatment of animals around the globe?
Trisha is a TV journalist working for AP TV News in Rome. She is married to an Italian and is a Mamma of three.