Postcard from Qatar: A rainbow of rabbits and soft fluffy chicks

We don’t need to paint our way to paradise — it is outside, waiting to be found or forgotten.

These day-glo rabbits and little chicks look like something from a sci-fi show or a biotech laboratory but they are real-live pets, which I recently saw on sale in a market in Doha, Qatar.


I was in Doha for the World Conference of Science Journalists, where I met a Qatari journalism student called Latifa bint Sa’ad.

When I asked her about the rabbits in the market and about local people’s attitudes to animals she answered poetically:

“Religiously, we consider animals as better than us in many ways — our competition in the praise of God, or as superiors that do not sin. We look at them mystically.”

Latifa said that Qataris increasingly treat animals:

“…as complements to life — canaries to sweeten the air with music, turtles to amuse the kids, and rabbits to have run around the garden.”

But of the brightly coloured animals I saw, she said:

“It’s a commercial thing, sadly… The souq [market] is mostly for tourists.”

Latifa added that while many Qatari people thought it was inconsiderate to dye the fur or feathers of the caged creatures, no-one had ever taken a stand against the practice — and that perhaps journalists should investigate whether or not the animals suffered.

I think that the real story waiting to be told is not the one about the welfare of the rabbits and the chicks.

It is the story of what happens to children’s relationships with nature when they think that rainbow rabbits and soft fluffy chicks are normal.


3 thoughts on “Postcard from Qatar: A rainbow of rabbits and soft fluffy chicks

  1. Readers might be interested in a new study [PDF] entitled “Children Prioritize Virtual Exotic Biodiversity over Local Biodiversity”. It was published in the online journal PLoS ONE and summarised here by the Sticky Tongue Project.

  2. This dreadful practice is affected here in Bangalore, India as well. Not the rabbits but the chicks. I agree, a child will imagine you get natural chicks in all those odd colours.

    Another similar practice which I am against is the dyeing of white orchids and gladioli blue! This is to match the brides colour scheme or just an unusual colour which florists use to attract buyers!

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