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Animal rights in Morocco

Animal Rights In Morocco and Their Welfare

There is always an interesting debate concerning animal rights and welfare in Morocco.

According to the amount of travelling achieved by each individual, there is only a certain level of tolerance for information we’re ready to receive.

After years of hearing feedbacks of clients, we wondered how could we talk about this subject with enough knowledge and tact.

Both for animals and for Morocco.

So here we give a wider view to our readers by sharing thoughts we have about animal welfare, their rights in Morocco and how conscious travel can speed the change.

Animal Rights In Morocco
Picture Jemaa EL Fna Square Marrakech Morocco April 2013. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license BY Calflier001

Human living conditions

This is a developing country, of which inhabitants are also developing more and more respect towards animals. In fact, associations start being considered more seriously, gaining more support.

But people of this country are also still fighting for their own rights.

  • A better education
  • Improved life expectation
  • Improved health care
  • Better equality rights for men and especially women

Those lucky enough to have received an education may understand that it is a privilege that has multiple facets and could help considerably: it serves in improving their lives by helping in improving the lives of those around.

It is a duty for those who have received an education, a proper education, to re-draw the line of respect for life, be that human or animal.

Giving from the overflow is necessary, we can’t expect people to give from an empty bucket.

Official activism for animals

On today’s date, there are no laws yet that can guard, in a safe way, the right of animals.

Many legislations are partially applied, being discussed or developed and associations are savvier about laws – conscious about their intermediary role in this society.

The path is still long, as long as it has been in many other countries before Morocco.

In fact, we as tourists, always make a mistake, a genuine mistake that reveals itself noxious: 

We think we are coming from the righteous place.

Before giving any kind of suggestion, we should think to our own countries, specifically our country-sides, 30 years ago or more.

Culling of stray dogs, exploitation of working animals…many of us has already seen it all once, and it still happens in our countries.

Without jumping to conclusions, it would be of a great impact to do something first.
Stick to supporting the good associations that exist here in Morocco and use tourism providers that commit in giving back to the 4 legged community.

The main purpose of these associations is assuring the wellbeing of the animals, and with our contributions, they will be able to do more and more.

They will be able to get closer to the authorities, to make sure that people who hurt animals will pay the consequence of cruel actions. That who does not have the chance to see beyond their own realities can have the chance to expand their comprehension on this subject of animals welfare and rights in a more inclusive way.

Another continent – another pace

Our society guides us to see only the problem most of the time. Each time we do this, we lose our ability to find the solution before our eyes.

I will not expect someone who’s not able to take care of himself to properly do it for a living being – that for lack of education – he’s considering only as a tool that allows him and the family to survive.
Life is very hard on some people here, society is too strong as a community and “melting away” the old ways is hard.

Animal Rights In Morocco
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlascar/7346224926/ Snake Charmer at Jamaa el-Fnaa / Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license BY Jorge Lascar

What is charming to every person visiting this country is it’s the naturally slow pace and as we can imagine, sudden changes are a hit or miss.

Criticizing the behaviour will not take us to our goal. Encouraging the right behaviour such as charity work, volunteering, activism and not turning our heads will.

Little, constant changes are effective and long-lasting, allowing everyone to absorb the new, the unknown concept of compassion towards those who cannot speak.

Personally, I am an animal lover and a person who spent enough time in Morocco to understand that our every individual role is to build a bridge to facilitate the understanding of certain concepts that are too far from other people.

Our role in every country

We are all facilitators, there is no way of speaking harshly about something we can’t deeply understand from both sides.

Yes, we agree that animal cruelty is wrong and that something needs to be done. 

Actively and immediately we all do have a choice:

Decisive statements

  • not taking pictures with the monkeys in the square Jemaa le Fna
  • or the goats tied in trees
  • or the falcons and snakes charmers in the square, in the mountains or in Essaouira
  • not buying reptiles like turtles and chameleons in the souks too.
  • not using the popular “caleche”, the horse-driven carts that throttle tourists around all day long (pre covid) and are then left to virtually rot in their own hell after work is another personal choice that can have an impact. 


This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0 International licenseBY Elena Tatiana Chis
Goats in an argan tree, Morocco / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. BY Elena Tatiana Chis

Yes, we cannot take away the chance for people to earn a living as they always did. But we can – with our choices – have some influence on a slow and steady change. Pushing working opportunities in other directions, possibly far from the lives of innocent animals.

A role model

We have decided not to list and advocate the organisations in Morocco who we believe are working well towards animal rights in Morocco, as our role is not to sit in judgement of those who are and those who aren’t. However, as a business we do support and have 100% faith in one organisation which we have spent so much rtime with and known for so long that we have no hesitation in maintaining the relationship we have with them and ask that you also check them out. 

Jarjeer Donkey Refuge
Jarjeer Donkey Refuge

They are Jarjeer Mule and Donkey Refuge located just outside Marrakech.

Animals in tourism

Here at So Morocco and our affiliate company Walking with Nomads, we are totally against the use of wild animals in tourism under any circumstances. In some of the wild areas of Morocco, there are wild monkeys and we are happy for you to stop in these regions to try and get a sighting but not to touch them.

Regarding domesticated animals, our view is that the use of donkeys and camels in Morocco for tourist purposes is very much part of the culture. Even if you do not ride one, you will most certainly benefit from their hard work as nothing moves in and out of the souks and medinas, without them.

As we wish to respect the local culture and bring conscious tourism into rural areas which use donkeys, mules and camels as transport for themselves as well as tourists, we prefer to find a way for this to sit comfortably with us.

In the desert we use only the camels belonging to our own guides.  Most camps use one or two camel providers who have hundreds of camels who, in our opinion, are not cared for correctly. We have only a few and they are much loved, respected and well cared for by Hammid and when they are not working, they are free to roam and graze.

Hammid Nomad Guide & Camel
Hammid and 1 of his much loved camels

With donkeys, we encourage various local initiatives to help ensure that the donkeys we use are in good health and well treated and if you see anything of concern, please let us know.

Animal Rights In Morocco – Let’s make it actionable

The priority of the government should be its people, and our responsibility as people is to impact positively other lives, minimize our damage.

Let’s fund, invest, and make this consciousness something more and more familiar. 

Something easier to be talked about and discussed with more sensitivity, passion and interest.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you have any ideas? Are you from a developing country and have some information to share? Tell us in the comments!

Blog written by Burcin Yetim. Burcin has written several of the blogs on our site. Have a look through the blog pages to find many interesting articles.


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12 thoughts on “Animal rights in Morocco

  1. Thank you for this. I am currently in Marrakech and have been very upset by what I have seen. From the clearly. terrified snakes in the square snapping at people to the horrendous condition of the horses & donkeys and how they’re treated. Not to mention the monkey’s on chains in the medina. I don’t know how anyone can be so cruel, and how tourists can be so ignorant in 2023. Looking for ways that I can help and stumbled across this.

    1. Hi – thank you for leaving this comment. With the monkeys and snakes, the ignorance of the tourists is the problem, without that, these scenes would not exist.
      With the donkeys and horses, changes are coming – I’ve witnessed this over the years I have been working here and Jarjeer do exemplary work.

  2. Thank you for sharing this post. During our tour, we made a stop at 8VQX+4V9, P2024, Aguergour, Morocco. There, I witnessed a distressing sight: a monkey with a chain around its neck. The scorching heat only added to its suffering as it sat alone on a stone, desperately attempting to free itself from the chain. This moment marked my breaking point, following encounters with snakes and other mistreated monkeys in the main square (+ donkeys and horses around the Marrakesh + camels that need to lay down and stand up every 15 mins as new tourists come for a short ride). I still cannot forget this monkey. It breaks my heart to see how animals are treated here and takes away any desire to come back again.

    1. Thank you for your comment and it breaks my heart too. The issue lies mostly with the tourists as the snakes and monkeys are used like this to make money from tourism, if tourists didn’t pay, the issue would disappear overnight. So, we do everything we can to ensure our tourists are conscious and don’t take part in any of these activities just because they didn’t really think about it. We are also sure that anyone who does think about it, would NOT have anything to do with it. With the donkeys, the issue is more complex but the best thing you can do is support Jarjeer Donkey Rascue as they are doing groundbreaking work to not only care for the donkeys but to show local people hoe animals should be treated.

  3. Similar to the above comments. The main square. The poor monkeys on chains getting yanked around, pulled from pillar to post, the monkeys are pulling back on the chains with shear sadness in their eyes, it’s utterly heart breaking. I saw a father take his child over for a photo, one of many but what does that tell this little boy. Donkeys in terrible conditions, sores the saddle if you can call it that, foaming at the mouth, flinching everytime the “owner” went close to him let alone touched him, getting yanked by his bit, covered in muck all over. These people have no money yes, it is there way to earn but at who’s expense? Are they being educated, are the tourists being educated? As I know that the problem lies with the people funding the barbaric actions. This is no life. The turtles, peacock and cockerels in tiny cages getting sold on the market. To who? Where will they end up? I agree with what you’ve said about the camels and horses being used for many years etc it was a good interesting read.

    1. Thank you for your comments and I completely agree. Raising awareness and supporting the organisations that are working for change is the best thing we can do. It will change in Morocco but the change is too slow.

  4. I’m in Marrakech at the moment for a week in Medina, I’m so heartbroken watching animals suffer in the heat with no rest in chains and no care at all. I’m trying to find ways to help but really don’t know how. Definitely not coming back to Marrocco again

    1. Hi

      I completely understand. The best way to help is to support the organisations that are working to help the animals. Also to refuse to partake in anything connected to the issue like carriage rides, monkey photos, etc etc. Change is coming in Morocco slowly slowly . . .

  5. Hi my name in Maja and I’m 17 years old. I spent 2 weeks in Morocco, I travelled to multiple cities (Marrakech, Merzouga, Tinghir, Agadir, Taghazout) and one thing that linked them was the animal neglect.

    I have witnessed horrifying sights such as: tied up and encaged monkeys in medina, dead dogs due to the lack of nutrition, mules with open wounds from being hit by sticks, dromedaries with wounded noses due to tight ropes, snakes with mutilated mouths due to the sewing process, horses being extremely malnourished, lambs (Eid was coming up) being in tight cages all piled on top of each other and many more sights.
    I could not express my sorrow for these beautiful animals which are being exploited. I have looked into multiple organisations such as SPANA, Moroccan animal aid, Animal rescue Morocco, and I am looking through Moroccans criminal code in order to complain to higher authority.

    If you have read this I urge you to do the same, please don’t forget about what you have seen and leave the responsibility to someone else. If you cant make a payment, please spread awareness, write complaints, this way there will be less support given for animal abuse.
    Thank you to all those who are trying to make a change, I owe you a lot of respect.

    1. Thank you for caring and the best way we have found is to support one of the amazing local initiatives. Our support goes to Jarjeer Donkey and Mule Sanctuary who do outstanding work and are 110% transparent.

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