Gaza Zoo May Get Real Zebras

By Nathan Burstein

Published October 14, 2009, issue of October 23, 2009.

Here’s an aspect of Arab-Israeli relations that’s truly black and white: A pair of zebras, currently residents of the Ramat Gan Safari located in a northern suburb of Tel Aviv, may be on their way to Gaza as a gift to the area’s children. The transfer is being considered following an incident in which the Marah Land Zoo in Gaza City had a pair of donkeys painted black and white in an effort to pass them off as zebras. The zoo’s only two zebras died of hunger earlier this year because of neglect during the Israel-Hamas war, and it couldn’t afford to replace them.

Although the zoo is one of Gaza’s few family-friendly entertainment venues, it was badly damaged during the fighting in January, with many of its animals killed and the facility’s animal population largely reduced.

Following the fighting, the zoo hired an artist to paint black-and-white stripes on a group of donkeys, and then used the animals to give rides to local children.

Zvi Bar, mayor of Ramat Gan, described the paint job as “irredeemable animal cruelty,” according to the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot.

Research into the zebras’ possible transfer began on October 11, but must clear a number of hurdles before the move can take place. Groups ranging from the Safari’s veterinary staff and Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority to the army and the Palestinian Authority must grant permission for the transfer.

Fortunately for the zebras, the staff of the Ramat Gan Safari already has experience with difficult moves. The facility recently flew a pair of hippopotamuses, sedated and accompanied by a team of veterinary experts, to a zoo in Kazakhstan.



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