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A Tale of Two Zoos

Environment and Planning A, 2012, Forthcoming

SUNY Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-046

15 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2012  

Irus Braverman

University at Buffalo Law School

Date Written: June 1, 2012


This short piece tells the story of the Israeli occupation through the relationship between two zoos: the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem and the Qalqilya Zoo in the West Bank. Despite the insistence by all interviewees that the zoos’ animals exist beyond the contentious politics of this place, this essay demonstrates that the two zoos are deeply entangled in hegemonic relations. The Israelis have the animals, the professional means, and the education. And as they give, take, and educate their Palestinian counterparts, they also create and enforce the proper conservation standards, thereby controlling the meaning of care for zoo animals, both in Israel and in Palestine. In effect, the Israeli gaze penetrates beyond the formal Israel/Palestine border. Instead of a straightforward story about sustaining wildlife, the control of zoo animals is a form of postcolonial ecology: an indirect penetration of the nation-state through nongovernmental means and in the name of conservation.

Keywords: zoos, animal studies, postcolonial ecology, Israel/Palestine, “more than human” geographies

Suggested Citation

Braverman, Irus, A Tale of Two Zoos (June 1, 2012). Environment and Planning A, 2012, Forthcoming; SUNY Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-046. Available at SSRN:

Irus Braverman (Contact Author)

University at Buffalo Law School ( email )

School of Law
528 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
716-645-3030 (Phone)
716-645-2064 (Fax)


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