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Page last updated at 12:55 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 13:55 UK

Dye-job donkeys wow Gaza children

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Gaza children play with the 'zebra' donkeys

A zoo in Gaza has found a novel way to get around Israeli restrictions on the importation of animals by partly dyeing two donkeys so they resemble zebras.

The owner of the Marah Land zoo in Gaza City said he had used masking tape and black hair dye, applied with a paint-brush, to disguise the white females.

Mohammed Bargouthi said it would have cost him more than $40,000 to bring in a real zebra via smuggling tunnels.

Children seemed delighted by the new additions and happily played with them.

The children don't know, so they call them zebras and they are happy to see something new
Mohammed Bargouthi
Owner, Marah Land zoo

"The first time we used paint but it didn't look good," Mr Bargouthi told the Reuters news agency. "The children don't know, so they call them zebras and they are happy to see something new."

All the real animals at the zoo, including monkeys and a tigress, had been smuggled under the border at great expense, he said.

FROM BBC WORLD SERVICE

Two genuine zebras died of starvation earlier this year during the Israeli military offensive, he added.

Until Israel lifts its blockade of Gaza, imposed, it says, in an attempt to reduce rocket attacks and weaken the leadership of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, such asinine deceptions are likely to continue.

But after hearing of the story, the mayor of one Israeli town has offered to send two real zebras to the zoo.

Tzvi Bar, mayor of Ramat Gan, said he had been shocked to hear of what had happened, Israeli media reported on Friday.



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