GAZA—Something didn't quite look right about the zebra, but it was hard to say exactly what. Of the several ramshackle zoos in Gaza, Marah, located not far from the Bureij refugee camp, is by far the cheeriest: The animals are lively, the enclosures clean...Before we leave this subject - are zebras black with white stripes? Or white with black stripes? Answer at Wiki - and I'll bet you guessed wrong.
"It's really a painted donkey," admitted Mahmud Berghat, the director of Marah, when asked about the creature. Making a fake zebra isn't easy—henna didn't work and wood paint was deemed inhumane, so they finally settled on human hair dye. "We cut its hair short and then painted the stripes," Berghat explained... It did the trick—if not for zoologists, then at least for legions of Gaza schoolchildren who have never seen a real zebra...
During Israel's Operation Cast Lead... Marah's zookeepers couldn't reach the animals. Some were hit by shrapnel; several, including a prized peacock, escaped; and many more died of starvation... But what differentiates Gaza's zoo is how the animals got there. Prior to the Hamas takeover, many of the animals were brought in legally from Egypt and Israel. But since 2007, the most common route animals take to their cages in Gaza is through the underground labyrinth of tunnels that snake from the southern tip of Gaza into Egypt's Sinai.
But the zoos, whatever their shortcomings, provide a rare form of entertainment in a congested strip of land that affords few other diversions. "This is the only public place in the area where people can relax outside and the children can play..."