Qalqilya Zoo

Qalqilya Zoo is a small 2-hectare (4.9-acre) zoo in the Palestinian city of Qalqilya on the western edge of the West Bank.[2][3] Established in 1986, it is the only zoo in the State of Palestine.[1] The zoo houses 170 animals, a natural history museum, a children's entertainment park, and an on-site restaurant.

Qalqilya Zoo
Date opened1986[1]
LocationQalqilya, West Bank, Palestine
Coordinates32°11′43″N 34°58′15″E / 32.1953845°N 34.9707511°E / 32.1953845; 34.9707511Coordinates: 32°11′43″N 34°58′15″E / 32.1953845°N 34.9707511°E / 32.1953845; 34.9707511
Land area2 hectares (4.9 acres)
No. of animals170


Hippo at Qalqilya Zoo, 2006

The zoo was the brainchild of the former mayor of Qalqilya.[4] Israeli zoos helped to stock it and it was designed as a symbol of Arab-Israeli cooperation.[5] When it opened in 1986, the zoo was considered a "jewel in the crown of Palestinian national institutions."[1] It became a popular attraction and was later expanded to accommodate the increasing flow of visitors,[6] which included both Arabs and Israelis.[5]

After the outbreak of the Second Intifada, visitors from outside Qalqilya were barred entry. In 2003, the Israeli authorities allowed group visits arranged in advance.[5] A child playing outside the main entrance of the zoo on a public holiday was killed by indiscriminate fire which led to a brief drop in visitors.[4] The zoo's survival has been attributed to the hard work and dedication of its resident veterinarian, Dr Sami Khadr and his staff.[4]

During the intifada, a giraffe from South Africa, frightened by the sound of gunfire, was killed when it ran into a pole. Ruti, his pregnant partner, miscarried ten days later.[1] In 2002, three zebras died after inhaling tear gas used to break up a demonstration at a high school adjacent to the zoo.[7] Khadr applied taxidermy to preserve some of the animals, including the giraffe, the unborn calf, the zebras, a monkey, wildcats and snakes.[1]

Since its inception, an Israeli veterinarian, Motke Levison, has helped out at the zoo, providing phone consultations and meeting with Khadr to deliver emergency medical supplies. Levison has served as a mediator, helping the zoo acquire new animals.[1] Three lions, three ibex desert goats and two zebras were donated by the Ramat Gan Safari park in September 2004.[7] The lions were meant to be transferred to Qalqilya in 2000, but the outbreak of the Second Intifada delayed the delivery.[8] Saeed Daoud, director of the Qalqilya Zoo, dubbed the three lions, who were named Jafer, Jaras and Naboko, "the kings of peace."[6] According to Khadr, the Ramat Gan zoo also sent him monkeys, an ostrich, and raccoons.[8]

Zoo groundsEdit

Crocodiles, 2006

The zoo houses lions, brown bears, crocodiles, ostriches, camels, deers, gazelles, zebras, birds, lizards, snakes, and monkeys of various types.[2] There is also a hippopotamus named Dubi, who shares his small concrete wading pool with a family of peacocks.[3] In December 2003, the zoo was described in The Guardian as "one of the West Bank's more pleasant surprises [...] there is a small but beautiful landscaped park. There is a large swimming pool packed with children. And amid the trees, in spacious, clean enclosures, a lioness, an ostrich, a family of bears, a pool full of crocodiles."[4] The animals have ample room to move around with some enclosures as big as those in the London Zoo.[5]

The zoo can be reached by taking a service taxi from the city center. The zoo also has a small children's entertainment park with a large swimming pool.[2][5] Schoolchildren are frequent visitors to the zoo's "colorful, highly eccentric Natural History Museum."[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Julia Glover (August 5, 2004). "Zebras, giraffes and tear gas". CBC News. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  2. ^ a b c "Contrasts in the Zoo of Palestine". Palestine Monitor. February 14, 2008. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  3. ^ a b c Amelia Thomas (July 7, 2008). "The last Palestinian zoo". Lonely Planet. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ a b c d Justin Huggler (December 14, 2003). "The world's loneliest zoo: Amid the violence and poverty of the West Bank is a besieged but beautiful animal park, treasured by families on both sides of the divide". The Guardian. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  5. ^ a b c d e Justin Huggler (July 26, 2003). "West Bank zoo stays open, but one by one its animals are dying amid the teargas and panic". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  6. ^ a b Ahmad Sub Laban (September 22, 2004). "The lion kings of Qalqilya". Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  7. ^ a b Laurie Copans (September 10, 2004). "Israeli lions and zebras make new home in Palestinian zoo". JWeekly. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  8. ^ a b VIva Press NULL (September 12, 2004). "Israel sends animals to Palestinian zoo in gesture of cooperation". Israel 21c. Retrieved 2009-01-25.