“I bought this donkey 12 years ago. He was ten years old. He has grown old and tired, but we are patient with him,” Abdelqader Jibelo, the owner of the donkey, said while getting the animal ready to carry goods in the ancient city of Fez in Morocco.
Jibelo’s donkey is almost 22 years old but still has to work, because Jibelo doesn’t have enough money to buy a younger donkey.
A new shelter opened in Fez to help donkeys of people like Jibelo, who can’t afford a good resting place or veterinary care. The shelter offers free care and protection.
In the old part of Fez, donkeys are used as transportation for goods because it’s a car-free area. But the donkeys are not always healthy or treated well.
“The streets and alleys of the city are very narrow, and it is donkeys and mules that transport goods from the last point that cars can reach to shops and houses in the old city of Fez,” Maryam Ghandi, an architect who contributed to building the shelter, told Reuters.
The donkeys are essential to the city’s economic activity but spend nights in the open air, in the cold, heat or rain, Ghandi said. When the animals get seriously ill, they are often abandoned, she added.
The shelter is part of an initiative of the animal charity American Fondouk, which has been providing free veterinary care for donkeys in Fez since 1927.
There are around 100 donkeys and mules working in Fez. The new shelter has space for around 30 animals but hopes to expand that number to 50, Ghandi said.
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