The truth about Marrakech’s animal entertainment and how to help.

When discussing my hit list of places to experience, I was told many times that Marrakech is a “must see location” in Morocco for its unique culture, moorish architecture along with the endless sensory overload of smells and sounds. I soon found that it is a city of all things exotic and chaotic which made me understand why Marrakech is a must see.

Now on to the topic of this piece; we as humans seem to have the idea that we are superior when it comes to animals and therefore are entitled to do whatever we want with them. Unfortunately it is a commonly held belief it is okay that animal interests and wellbeing don’t matter at all when it comes to Moroccan society.

On a recent trip to Marrakech, I walked through the souks as I was drawn in by their chaotic bazars and scents of spices and tea. The pleasant windy alleyways soon transformed into blood stained cobble streets that we spattered with innards of gutted fish and smelled of chickens that were bound by their ankles and fearfully paralysed hopelessly in front of stalls. These were lined up next to the pelts of rabbits and freshly decapitated heads of sheep that were carelessly dumped on the ground as tourists tried to make their way through the maze to take in fresh air.

As I made my way to an open space, which happened to be the famous square or Jemma El Fna, I initially saw juice stall vendors lined up next to each other heckling for my attention and a pressure sale. This was all whilst women gathered in circles yelled at me for a henna tattoo, several in which forcibly grabbed my hand and applied gooey brown liquid whether I liked it or not.


I was able to escape their tight grasp in time to notice a cobra snake that was lying almost lifeless in front of me. I knew it wasn’t dead because it unenthusiastically rose to the sound of the oboe that played, or rather taunted. To put into context, the cobra’s fangs are removed when caught to be safely held captive for entertainment leaving them to live on an unnatural diet of liquified food. When the snake raises to the music, it isn’t due to the seductive sound or even due to its dedicated loyalty or training by its owner. The real reason is because they are seriously under fed and given liquid food as a reward for ‘dancing’. This means that the cobra lives a torturous, malnourished and short life until the ‘master’ catches another for replacement after a few weeks.

Further into my exploration, I saw ‘pet shops’ flaunting their exotic animals such as chameleons, rabbits and gerbils that were chained into their cages and used as tourist traps. Turtles were piled onto each other and probed at by children. Some of the poor turtles had already died due to a combination of suffocation and being crushed from the sheer weight of one another. I was once again relentlessly heckled to take photos by the shop owner as if it was an exciting experience, I showed my disapproval by giving him an angry look. How anyone would want to snap a photo of this is beyond me.

I was greeted by a man wearing traditional attire who offered, or once again forced me to take a photo of his monkey in return for money. As I looked down, I saw a beautiful macaque, who did a back flip though not on command, but instead due to the discomfort that was caused when his metal chain was yanked. Wearing a hat and shirt, the macaque at first looked adorable but after taking a closer look, it was clear to see it was miserable. The abused animal was avoiding eye contact, ridden of fleas and with no valuable or ethical relationship to the owner. Its eyes were filled with years of fear and torment.


I later found out that the monkeys are torn from their mothers and natural habitat in the Atlas Mountains at a young age for the purpose of making quick money. All in which they make by being forced to perform “tricks” for blind sighted and naive tourists. Unfortunately money is what they make indeed by us tourists. Tourists that also hold the key to freedom simply by not engaging, paying or showing interest.

I know that cultures and our attitudes about animals greatly varies in all four corners of the globe, but one thing that I will not sit back and watch without advocating for or simply writing a post about in the hope of educating others is animal abuse. I’m the voice for those who are voiceless.

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom and there is a way that we can help these beautiful animals live their natural lives without the grotesque and unethical welfare of these animals. Simply don’t pay or watch. With no money, comes no entertainment and with no entertainment, comes no reason to use these animals.

Thank you for helping this world progress into a kind one!

I’m an Australian blogger based in Central West NSW who has spent the last few years exploring the four corners of the globe, living as an expat and falling in love with the world just a little bit more everyday. Here you can find my tips, guides and experiences to help inspire you for your next trip!

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