JERUSALEM, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- Gaza's only zoo hired a local artist to paint donkeys to look like zebras to attract crowds, zoo officials said.
Keen to keep one of Gaza's only attractions open to the public, head keeper Mahmoud Barghouti said the zoo's financial situation forced him to seek a creative solution to the problem of not being able to afford new animals, a report in Yedioth Aharonoth said Thursday.
Zebras cost $15,000 each.
"It is the only place of entertainment left in Gaza. We used to have two zebras but they died from starvation during the military offensive. Some of the other animals escaped and died and some were stolen," he told the newspaper.
To rehabilitate the zoo, Barghouti said a practical solution was found.
"We brought in two donkeys and hired a professional artist to paint in the stripes," Barghouti said.
The faux zebras are the zoo's main attraction and young visitors love to take photos with them.
Zoo Director General Abu Jamil Qassam told the newspaper he may consider suing Israel for damage caused during Operation Cast Lead and demand compensation to refurbish the site.
"Currently the children of Gaza must suffice with cats and dogs and donkeys painted as zebras, and the lioness Sabrina," he said. One of the zookeepers said they explain to the visiting children how the dogs, cats and monkeys were smuggled in through tunnels from Egypt, the newspaper said.