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Morocco celebrates Festibaz donkey festival

Hard at work throughout the year, the donkeys in the Moroccan village of Beni Ammar Zerhoun got a day’s worth of pampering as villagers celebrated them in a festival.

Known as Festibaz, the village’s 13th donkey festival featured a beauty pageant and a race.

Seven donkeys were enrolled in the pageant, during which the owners paraded the animals before a committee.

“Shah Rukh Khan,” the donkey picked as the winner came ready to impress, with a band of flowers placed on top of its head.

As well as decorations and aesthetics, the beauty pageant judges a donkey’s behavior towards the owners and others.

The reward for winning the pageant was a 50 kilogram (110 pounds) bag of barley.

“I take care of it constantly and do not neglect it because it helps me and takes me wherever I want (to go),” said Amine Yaala, whose donkey won the donkey beauty pageant.

Donkeys are a fixture of daily life in this village, where they are essential for transportation in its mountainous terrain and in hauling goods.

“I cannot do without them because they are extremely important and necessary in mountainous areas. On flat land, we use tractors. But to move in the mountains, we always need them,” says Mohammed Azzouzi, a villager.

The species’ well-known stubbornness has however made the word donkey synonymous with ineptitude and a lack of intelligence.

But the villagers in Beni Ammar Zerhoun think of donkeys as an indispensable asset in the local economy.

The village started organizing a donkey festival in 2001, but has not held it every year.

This is the first year that the festival has resumed since the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the sidelines of the festival, the Society for the Protection of Animals and Nature organized a campaign to give treatment to donkeys.

They were checked to make sure they are in good health before they took part in the donkey race.

The contest took place over 1 kilometer, featuring 12 donkeys and riders between the ages of 17 and 20.

The winner was Said Hayani, a 19-year-old villager who said he was proud of his victory.


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