Is it cruel to keep animals in small cages? Is it cruel to keep people in big cages? Is it cruel to deny people in big cages animals to put in small cages? Is that cruel to the people, or the animals? Qalqilia houses Palestine's only zoo, set up in co-operation with Israeli zoos in the 1980s. For much of the year nobody visits it - Qalqilia is surrounded on all sides by a massive wall topped with watchtowers, purportedly to protect Israel from suicide bombers. The zebras died from tear gas, and a giraffe

hit his head during a gun battle and died. For Dr Sami Khader, the zoo's vet, nothing goes to waste. All of the dead animals have been stuffed. Once a year, at the end of Ramadan, for the festival of Eid, the sleepy zoo springs to life again. Chickens are dislodged from their nests in the dodgem cars, walls are painted, and for 3 days the zoo once again functions as a place of innocent pleasure.

Qalqilia, November 2003

at the zoo
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