This month's city magazine had a back cover story about the bird sellers on Las Ramblas, who appear to have bowed to the pressure from the protest groups. Or perhaps the council has decided for them. Known locally as "ocellaires", many of the stalls are passed down through generations, as Monica Trias asserts in the story in the city magazine.
I remember when I first arrived that many an evening I passed the closed stalls on Las Ramblas, and didn't even realise that they were the same animal stalls. They are kind of tardis-like, folding in on themselves and no-one would imagine what they are while viewing them on an evening. During the day, they open up fairly wide if you consider the size of the closed cabin, and sell various animals, from tortoises and rabbits to birds and fish. They are a constant attraction to tourists who stop to look at the animals (although rarely buy, for obvious reasons).
They have also raised a great amount of protest over the years, especially since 2003, as this website explains. There are also a couple of Facebook pages dedicated to the protest. I remember on a couple of occasions seeing the caged humans in protest over the years, but after seeing the pratice continue, I assumed it was a futile attempt at a demonstration.
In all the years that I've been in Barcelona, I'd never seen any retaliation or attempt at defending their trade from the animal sellers. Apart from one time. I rue not taking a photo of the card which was hung on the cage of one of the animals, but fortunately found the image after a search online. I can't remember exactly when the card was put up, but I do remember returning a couple of days later with the idea of taking a photo and the card had gone. Credit here.
In case you don't want to click on the photo to enlarge, this is what it says:
This is a city where people work and live, not a theme park.
Stores in "La Rambla" have a 150 year history
Before you arrive, we were very happy
Please show some respect for the city and its inhabitants"
What do you think? I was very surprised, and have seen other examples since which also leave me baffled.
So, the animal stalls are to be changed to stalls selling locally-produced artisan goods. All but one, which will remain an animal stall. Apparently negotiations with the council and the Association of Ocellaires were lengthy and tough. With 150 years of history, I can understand why, but part of me is happy about the outcome. I'm no animal rights activist, and have to say that I've stopped to look at the stalls on many occasions with friends and family over the years, but something tells me this is for the best. What do you think? Is leaving one animal stall a cheeky move from the council? Should they have rid Las Ramblas from the stalls completely? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, as always, so please feel free to comment.
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