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The Zoo on the Road to Nablus: A Story of Survival from the West Bank
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The Zoo on the Road to Nablus: A Story of Survival from the West Bank

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  54 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
The last Palestinian zoo stands on a dusty, dead-end street in the once prosperous farming town of Qalqilya, on the very edge of the West Bank. The zoo's bars are rusting; peacocks wander quiet avenues shaded by broad plane trees; a teenage baboon broods in solitary confinement; walls bear the pockmarks of gunfire. And yet the zoo is an extraordinary place, with a bizarre, ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 22nd 2008 by PublicAffairs (first published January 11th 2008)
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Heather Browning
Jan 23, 2014 Heather Browning rated it really liked it
A sweet and sad story about the valiant attempts of one man to set up an "international zoo" in conflict-torn Palestine. I found it a little difficult in the beginning to get used to the abrupt switches between the narrative and facts and history about zoos and particular animals, but by the end I enjoyed the little extra pieces of information.
Gemma Alexander
I was expecting a plucky underdog story about the vet who kept a small Palestine zoo running against all odds, and there was some of that. Dr. Sami was devoted to his charges and truly creative in finding ways to treat them with almost zero resources. But I became frustrated reading it. Ultimately his challenge seemed more quixotic than plucky; the ethical problems of maintaining wild animals in captivity can only be answered under conditions of stability and with massive funding. On bad days, D ...more
Nov 14, 2008 Michael rated it liked it
This was an easy and pleasant read. It turns out really to be about the zoo and is not written as an allegory for the situation on the West Bank generally (which was what I was expecting). There are more background digressions about some of animals in the zoo than about the political situation.

The central character is the sympathetic vet who effectively runs the zoo, Dr. Sami - his travails are as much connected with the problems of dealing with stifling bureaucracy as anything else. Given the
Aug 28, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: animals, nonfiction, zoo
This book was...incredible. Something in it truly struck a chord. At first, I really didn't know what to make of it, with its sad descriptions of animals in the Palestinian city Qalqilya that is practically a cage itself within the Israeli security fence. The crew of zookeepers seemed dedicated but apathetic, the heroic vet, Sami Khader, full of grand ideas but clueless. The almost macabre description of the vet's taxidermy side projects (stuffing any animals that died at the zoo) and placing th ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Kirsti rated it really liked it
I read this book hoping there would be some kind of happy ending, but if that's what you're after, then read another animal book. This one leaves you depressed with reality, saddened by the cruelty of humanity. There is a glimmer of hope throughout the book in the form of the Zoo's veterinarian and all round organizer of pretty much everything, Sami. Somehow, I feel like he would keep the animals happy no matter what, but I can't find any more information on this Zoo after the book's publication ...more
Tami Lynn Andrew
It's hard for me to accurately rate this book because I spent the entire semester reading 5 pages here, 10 pages there--because of my limited time-- and then plowed through the last 150 pages the day classes ended (literally).
That being said, obviously the beginning felt very slow for me, but once it picked up (or rather, I picked IT up) I rather liked it. It's more documentary than novel, based on the true story of a Palestinian zoo keeper, but I found the random animal facts and zoo tidbits pr
Aug 02, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Very good book. Kind of disjointed story telling and the end is kind of sudden and unresolved. It is about the only Palestinian Zoo and its struggle to survive in a war torn area. It brings to light the ravages of war on the most innocent victims. Interesting take on the whole situation from a side that is not often heard hear in America.
Jan 10, 2009 Jacob rated it it was amazing
I expected this book to have a one-sided view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however, the author presents a wonderful, well-balanced story. Not only was this enjoyable, but the effort she puts into the history of the zoo and intertwines it with the general history of zoos is excellent.
Aug 31, 2008 Dawn rated it it was ok
Life is hard in the West Bank, for both humans and animals. The dedication of Sami to the zoo is amazing and slightly sad at the same time. I hope that someday he can reach "international" standards, but I don't see it as likely to happen anytime soon.
Jun 23, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it
What I mean by giving this book 4 stars is it makes me want to go to on a vacation to the West Bank to visit this zoo. Also it taught me that giraffes think toffee is delicious.
Aug 29, 2011 Emilie rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011-reading
I tried and I tried.
I just couldn't get interested in this story.
Some might love it, but it was not for me.
Aug 07, 2008 Linnae rated it liked it
Shelves: true-tales
Optimism in the face of unstable politics and unending setbacks. Made my goals seem more reachable.
Dan Smolar
Aug 01, 2010 Dan Smolar rated it it was amazing
Really moved me.
Highly recommended!
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Jul 15, 2015
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