In de dierentuin van het Palestijnse plaatsje Qalqilya is het maar de vraag wie meer opgesloten zit: de beesten of de bewoners die zijn omringd door de Israëlische Muur. Het staat er slecht voor maar de lokale dierenarts Dr. Sami vecht iedere dag voor zijn dierentuin, de enige ter wereld in bezet gebied.

Gewapend met een positieve instelling en een goed gevoel voor humor werkt hij aan een plan: aansluiting bij het Europese netwerk voor dierentuinen EAZA om zijn dierentuin te kunnen uitbreiden en aanpassen aan de moderne standaard. In een politiek geladen plek als Palestina is het echter zo makkelijk nog niet om je zaken goed voor elkaar te krijgen. De lm laat zien waar de samenwerking tussen een Palestijnse en een Israëlische dierentuin en de passie en het doorzettingsvermogen van één individu samen toe kunnen leiden.


Veterinarian Sami Khader (Dr Sami) dreams of becoming member of international zoo association EAZA in order to welcome new giraffes in his zoo. The zoo in Qalqilya, a small city on the border of the Israeli occupied West bank, hardly manages to survive after having lived through two intifadas during which they lost part of their livestock, most notably the giraffes. The non-cooperative Israeli’s authorities sometimes seem to be the least of his problems.

Will Dr Sami succeed in joining the international zoos community and having giraffes walking around in his zoo again one day? Or will this become another symbol of the Palestinian Utopia? The answer to that question does not only show the passion and endurance of one individual, but also gives a unique, sometimes humoristic, parallel to the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian situation.


Dr Sami is without a doubt the film’s protagonist: a passionate vet, with a big heart for animals, but without being sentimental about it. When giraffe Brownie died and one of his staff members was crying, Dr Sami asked him if he had shed as many tears for the human victims of the intifada. Officially, his task is to keep the animals healthy, but dr Sami’s many skills push him much further. He is also a collector, designer, guide, decorator, repair man and taxidermist. On his initiative, the zoo built the first and only Natural History Museum in Palestine.

Due to the political and economic situation Dr. Sami has to be practical and original in his approach on solving problems, helped by his understated sense of humour. Dr Sami is a Palestinian refugee who grew up in Saudi Arabia. In a small and provincial town like Qalqilya he will always be an outsider. His total disinterest toward political issues make him even more isolated because he doesn’t belong to any faction, nor Hamas nor Al Fatah. Because of this the administration does not give him decision-making power, even if he is the only one who has knowledge about wildlife and zoos and he is the only one in Qalqilya with an international network. Nevertheless, he is persistent and drawbacks do not seem to influence him too much. He licks his wounds and immediately proceeds to the next plan.


Marco De Stefanis is a filmmaker from the Netherlands whose documentaries have been shown in several film festivals around the world. Among his works: “Waiting for Giraffes” (EO/2016 – Netherlands/Palestine) in competition at IDFA 2016 for Dutch Competition, “Damned Children” (UNICEF/2012 – Dem. Rep. of Congo), “Tulip Time” (MAX/RAI/2008 – Netherlands/Italy) winner “Best TV Documentary 2009” at JewishEye Film Festival, Israel, “Lieve Monster” (BINGER/2006) winner “Best Foreign Short” at Danville Int. Children FilmFest, USA.