I love Morocco and have spent a lot of time visiting friends and travelling from Marrakech to the beauty and mystery of the desert. I love the people, the culture and the diversity. To me, Marrakech is unique; the vibrancy, the colours, the music, the history that surrounds you have a magical quality that reaches your soul. I love to spend hours wondering into the maze-like lanes and delving into the souks to haggle and bag an amazing bargain. I love to watch the vendors, the acrobats, street artists and musicians, while sitting in a restaurant over-looking the Djemaa El Fna Square and enjoying a Tagine or Couscous. One thing that has always caused me concern though, is to see the snakes and monkeys used to attract tourists for photos.
This concern was greatly heightened during my last visit to Marrakech a week ago. My partner, who is Moroccan, and I were sitting enjoying a fruit juice beside a stall. I was saddened to see that the monkey keepers now had some baby monkeys, which seemed to attract more tourists. I suddenly heard one baby yelling out in pain. He had his hand caught in the chain attached to the collar around his neck. The keeper didn’t respond to his suffering. He just pulled him along on his back on the ground, with the baby still crying out. He then threw him up in the air catching him but also missing him several times. Another baby monkey was kept in a small metal crate. It was a very hot day and there didn’t appear to be any water for him. As I scrambled to find my camera, to record this in order to report it, I then saw another of the keepers kick another baby monkey in the face and stomach and then hit him hard around the face. I wasn’t able to capture the actual abuse but I took photos of the monkeys and their keepers.
The one keeper came charging over to me, demanding money as he had seen me take a photo. I refused and he became verbally aggressive and threatening. I told him he must never, ever hit or kick any animal. He was quite frightening and my partner encouraged me to come to the police station, where he reported the situation to one of the police. Although, the policeman was sympathetic and told us it is illegal to even have the monkeys, he said they are powerless to do anything. I know many Moroccan people are desperate for work and try to encourage tourists to spend their money in order to make a living. What sickens me is that tourists encourage this kind of behaviour by continuing to have their photos taken. Also, is there ever any kind of excuse to hurt a wild animal in this way? If anyone can think of any way we can help to stop this abuse please help.