Qalqilia is encircled by the Israeli Wall, with soldiers
opening and closing gates for passage at various intervals. Life is
this northwestern West Bank city is lived in prison.

Veterinarian Dr. Sami Khader told PNN that the zoo is one of the few bright spots. “I supervise the care of all the animals in the zoo, with one of the latest success stories being the monkey, 'Rambo.' I am pleased to say that after a rough period he is now in good health."

Dr. Khader said on Wednesday that the zoo also symbolizes some of the worst of life under occupation. “The story of the giraffes is difficult. A female is grieving over the death of her mate. This is one of the most egregious acts of aggression I have seen. It proves to me that the occupation forces do not discriminate between people, trees, and stone.”

ImageHe continued, “The zoo is located between schools in the northern part of the city and the road where Israeli invasions often begin. Soldiers stay in that area and frequently shoot, causing the giraffes to live in a state of nervousness. This male who was killed began running in circles, angry and panicked by shots and gas fired by the occupation army. The area that houses the giraffes was hit the hardest during the attack. The roof caved in and the male giraffe suffered a brain hemorrhage after being hit in the head. By morning when I could reach the area he was dead.”

Dr. Khader added to the story. “The female was 13 months pregnant out of the normal 15, and her sadness was palpable."

The vet continued. "Many animals die due to the procedures of the occupation or from bullets. But often they do not kill the animals directly. For example I need specific equipment to administer anesthesia, but they will not allow it. What I am forced to use is a crude alternative that often falls short.”

The Qalqilia veterinarian said that German artist Peter Friedl is creating a project in cooperation with the Palestinian Society for Contemporary Arts to bring a form of life back to the animals who have died under the conditions of Israeli occupation. Stemming from a profession relationship that began during on-line discussions, Friedl and Dr. Khader are working together to embalm some of the animals and therein bring attention to their plight.

“When Peter heard the story of the giraffes and the animals killed by gas and bullets in the zoo, he decided to preserve their memory and illustrate the suffering of all of us. The occupation authorities do not want to give permits for transporting a large number of giraffes, but some will make it to give an idea of the vulnerability of these creatures."