Our founders Kate and Nina Hosali started working in Morocco in 1925 and since then our clinics and activities have flourished.
A day in the life of SPANA’s Marrakech centre
SPANA’s centre in Marrakech is the charity’s biggest and busiest. Hamid Belemleh, president of SPANA Morocco, tells us about a typical day.
7am - The centre’s grooms arrive to see to the donkeys, horses and mules that have been hospitalised. They muck out the stables, feed and water the animals and clean the centre.
8am - The rest of the team arrive and the veterinary technicians examine the inpatients, administer medications and provide any other necessary treatment like changing bandages with the vets. A groom then sees to SPANA’s horses. Each day they pull a water carriage around the city to fill up SPANA’s water troughs, used by the caleche horses (carriage horses popular with tourists). The groom washes the horses and puts on their harnesses ready to go out with our carriage driver. In total the horses will walk 16km throughout the day and deliver 500 litres of water. The centre has three very healthy horses that work two days on, one day off.
9am - The clinic opens its doors to the sick and injured mules, horses and donkeys that are waiting to be seen. Vet Dr Jaaiber treats a variety of conditions and injuries throughout the morning. Some of the animals can leave that day once their owners have been advised on their care. Others will stay at the centre until they are fully recovered. The inpatient animals are treated by vet Dr Boubker who administers medications, performs small operations and surgery, and oversees the general welfare of the animals.
2pm - It’s time for the education programme. A group of schoolchildren go into the classroom for a lesson on animal needs with the education officer. Dr Boubker joins them to talk about SPANA’s work. The class then tours the clinic to see the animals being treated. They also get a chance to handle the small animals kept at the clinic for the programme. Throughout the afternoon the vets treat new inpatients and handle any emergency arrivals. They also give tours of the centre for visitors and tourists who are interested in learning more about SPANA’s work.
6pm - The day ends as it began, with the grooms checking the stabled animals to ensure they have enough food and water for the night. A live-in groom stays overnight and monitors the animals in case they need any veterinary assistance.
Hamid trained in veterinary sciences in Lyons, France, before returning to Morocco to gain his PhD. After his studies, Hamid taught as a professor in the veterinary school at Rabat. In 1986 Hamid started working part-time for SPANA, modernising the programme with the help of a close-knit team and has now been working for SPANA for over 25 years.
“What I like most about my job is the pleasure you get from saving an animal or ensuring its welfare through education. Since I’ve been working for SPANA, I’ve seen great changes in people’s attitudes towards their animals. When I first started working for SPANA, we would have to go out and persuade people to get their animals treated. Now they come to us, and I think that’s a huge achievement for the charity.”
- 5 SPANA centres in Casablanca, Chemaia, Had Ouled Frej, Khemisset and Marrakech
- Nine mobile clinics reaching animals in remote communities from the edges of the Sahara to the Atlas mountains.
- Special projects such as setting up a licensing scheme for Marrakech’s caleche horses, which pull tourist carriages.
- SPANA also monitors their welfare and builds and maintains water troughs on main routes to give working animals access to water.
Teaching children to care
- SPANA believes the only way to ensure a better future for working animals is to educate children about animal welfare at an early age. Our extensive education programme in Morocco will teach more than 28,000 children this year.
- Children visit all of SPANA’s centres where they take part in animal welfare classroom activities and get to tour the clinics to see working animals being treated. They also get the chance to experience handling rabbits and guineas pigs which helps to develop positive attitudes and empathy towards animals.
- 12,000 children and their teachers visit the SPANA education programme at Sidi Bou Ghaba nature reserve to learn about animals in their natural environment.
- Later this year a new educational bus will tour schools in rural areas.
- SPANA has a riding centre in Casablanca which gives children with disabilities the opportunity to take part in riding activities.
Morocco at a glance
- Population: 33 million
- Area: 710,850 sq km
- Location: Most westerly country of north Africa
- Capital City: Rabat
- Estimated working animal population: Two million working donkeys, mules and horses.