No Zebra? Paint Your Ass


Two white donkeys dyed with black stripes, above, delight Palestinian children, who have never seen a zebra for real, at a small Gaza zoo. Photo by Mohammed Salem

With their long ears, drooping heads and sleepy eyes, the impostors would probably not fool the zoo’s only lioness. But the effect achieved by the zoo owners’ dye job looks not so bad — to the unpractised eye, and from a distance.

The donkey or ass, Equus africanus asinus, is a domesticated member of the Equidae or horse family, and an odd-toed ungulate. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African Wild Ass, E. africanus.


Zebras (above) are African equids best known for their distinctive white and black stripes, of three species, the Plains Zebra (Equus quagga), Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi) and the Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra).


On closer inspection the fur of the Gaza “zebras” resembles the classic convict suit of cartoon strips. Nidal Barghouti, whose father owns the Marah Land zoo, said that the two female donkeys were striped using masking tape and women’s hair dye, applied with a brush.

“The first time we used paint but it didn’t look good,” he said. “The children don’t know so they call them zebras and they are happy to see something new.”

A genuine zebra would have been too expensive to bring into Gaza via tunnels under the border with Egypt, said Muhammad Barghouti, the owner. “It would have cost me $40,000 to get a real one.”

Beside, he said, “It is difficult to smuggle zebras, because it’s not an official trade.”

Barghouti’s zoo charges a small entrance fee for a busload of children. Hasan Yaseen, a visitor, said that since his three children had never seen a real zebra, they enjoyed the Gaza version.

Apart from the two “zebras” and the lioness, the zoo also boasts an ageing tigress, two monkeys and a selection of birds, rabbits and cats. Barghouti swears that they are all real.

Sources: Times of London, BBC, AP, Reuters, etc.

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About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.

Leave a Reply

  1. It’s easy to laugh at the zookeeper until I realized that we painted our President to look like a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

    Let him without sin cast the first stone, I guess.

  2. I wonder what they’re planning to do when the monkeys die… ;-)

    All jokes aside, I hope that the situation in Gaza is corrected in the near future, so these children can have a happy childhood —which is IMHO the very foundation of a peaceful wold.

  3. I would like to second what Youcantryreachingme said.

    Plus:

    I’m sorry, but your Post Title made me laugh a full three minutes!!! LOL!!! :)

  4. I am willing to ship him fake antlers that he can glue on a dog, so that they have deer as well. As far as elephants I think he could staple some frizbees to a donkeys ears paint him grey, and glue a water hose to the donkeys nose, and that should work. You gotta know I am from the south.

  5. I don’t mean to be a sore sport, but everyone is making jokes. I watched the video on this story on msn.com today and the reporter said the 2 zebras they had died of starvation. Not really very funny. IMHO they shouldn’t have any animals until they can be fed and cared for properly.