Thursday, October 08, 2009

Painted Donkeys

Gaza City's zoo lost its only two zebras to hunger during the Gaza war. The animals were extremely popular with area children, but were too expensive to replace. So the zookeepers got novel: they hired a painter to paint black and white stripes on two donkeys, making them approximate the real thing.

The article reports that many Gaza children, having never seen a real zebra, enjoy their local "variant". Nonetheless, this strikes me as a worthy fundraising endeavor. Whatever thoughts one has about Cast Lead generally, one thing we can agree on is that the zebras didn't do anything wrong -- nor did the children who attend the zoo. While not minimizing by any means the importance of either of staples, or of structural and systematic change (in this case, the creation of a Palestinian state living in peace side-by-side with Israel), I think that, in conflict arenas particularly, it is also especially important to preserve the little pleasures and quirks of life: insuring that children have access to zoos, parks, playgrounds, and the like. It is these small things that often can serve as surprisingly effective bulwarks against radicalism and despair.

Somebody more knowledgeable about the workings of these things should set up an account to get the Gaza zoo two zebras. I can't imagine it is that expensive, and it's the least we all can do.


PG said...

I would have thought that such an account might be subject to the same problems as any other attempt to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Territories: having it siphoned off by corruption, or worse yet, used to buy arms.

Rebecca said...

Or the Israeli ban on letting in anything but humanitarian aid. Maybe the zebras can be led along the tunnels from Egypt?

I agree that this would be a lovely idea, but I have no idea how it could be implemented.

The Gaucho Politico said...

Air drop the zebras like they air dropped the elephant in operation dumbo drop. All kids should have the chance to see zebras at the zoo.

Matthew C said...

I read about this story on BBC, and the reason why its so expensive to get a Zebra is that they would have to be smuggled in illegally - at a cost of about $40,000 per zebra. Anyone who wanted to get the zoo a zebra at a reasonable cost would need to somehow get Israel on board with it.