American Fondouk


This nonprofit organisation, established in 1927, is dedicated to giving the working donkeys, mules and horses of the Fez medina a better life, with veterinary treatment and also support and education for the often-poor families who depend on the animals for their livelihoods. The group welcomes visitors, and vet volunteers give insightful, ad-hoc tours around the 25 stables and other facilities. Given the possibility of seeing animals with severe injuries, a visit is not recommended for younger children.

The American Fondouk is actually run by an English director, Dr Gigi Kay, with a team caring for about 35 equids at any one time, many suffering from common complaints such as sores and hernias. What may surprise some visitors is that cases of outright cruelty are extremely rare; the animals are a crucial part of the owners' lives, but often they lack knowledge for caring for them.

Some owners have walked for miles from surrounding villages to bring their sick steeds here, and while animals are receiving medical treatment, many owners visit frequently, sometimes daily. Hearing their stories from the veterinary staff can be both heartbreaking and moving.

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