Photo Credit: Courtesy Qalqiliya Zoo
Bear at the Qalqilya Zoo

A nine-year-old Arab boy on Tuesday got past security at the Qalqilya Zoo in Samaria and came up close enough for the caged bear to rip off his arm, Arab media sources reported.

PA police spokesperson Luay Irzeiqat said the child, a resident of Kafr Abbush near Tulkarem, had crossed the zoo’s security fence into the bear’s cage, to feed the bear. The bear responded by ripping off his arm below the elbow. The child was rushed to a local hospital and then transferred to al-Najah hospital in Shechem.

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Police closed down the entire Qalqilya Zoo dangerous animals section and launched an investigation.

The PA Ministry of Education suspended all school trips to the zoo until further notice and launched its own investigation.

The PA of Local Governance then closed down the entire zoo until further notice, saying it was in line with their “national responsibility.” This office, too, launched its own investigation.

Established in 1986, the tiny (4.9-acre) Qalqilya Zoo is the only municipal zoo in the PA. It features 170 animals, a natural history museum, a children’s entertainment park, and a restaurant. During the 2000 second Intifada, zoo animals were starving to death, while the zoo management, afraid of breaking the boycott on Israeli goods, refused offers of food donations from Israeli zoos. They finally consented to receive Zionist feed for their emaciated stock.

Israeli veterinarian, Motke Levison has been helping the zoo with phone consultations and emergency meetings. Levison helps the zoo acquire new animals: three lions, three ibex desert goats and two zebras were donated by the Ramat Gan Safari park in September 2004. Saeed Daoud, director of the Qalqilya Zoo, called the three lions—Jafer, Jaras and Naboko—the kings of peace. The Ramat Gan zoo also sent its Qalqilya sister a variety of monkeys, an ostrich, and raccoons.

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