Zoodulcis in Syria

Long ago, in a course concerning global citizenship I taught for the University of Utah, I assigned my students a reading on cultural diversity having to do with how we construct ‘otherness’.  Issues of race and gender were certainly featured, but one reading concerned the perceptions of nature that various cultures can hold that differ greatly from western thought.  One particular reading illustrated the perceptions of animals that many sectors of middle eastern culture hold, particularly pets.  One speaker in this dialogue claimed that middle eastern culture did not regard pets with the same sort of affection and sense of connectivity to humanity that westerners do.  The other speaker, a middle eastern man, gave a compelling account of all of the reasons that this was simply not the case. He mentioned to the western (American) interviewer that he himself had a pet dog.  The interviewer was surprised and delighted to hear this and of course, promptly shared his own pet’s names and asked for other man’s dog’s name.  The middle eastern man responded “You give them names?”.

Imagine then the cultural and logistical difficulties that a cat rescuer might face in war torn Syria.  A new book, released today, documents the humanitarian and ‘catitarian’ efforts of an extraordinary middle eastern man, who does indeed, give his animals names. This book is both inspirational, uplifting, and horrifying in its recounting of the conflicts in Syria and the cost of this war on children and animals.

This recommended read to further understanding of Zoodulcis is: The Last Sanctuary in Aleppo

Written by sanctuary saint and Maxi the marketing cat’s slave Alaa Aljaleel, with co-author Diana Darke.

Below is a synopsis from the book:
“I’ll stay with them no matter what happens. Someone who has mercy in his heart for humans has mercy for every living thing.”

When war came to Alaa Aljaleel’s hometown, he made a remarkable decision to stay behind, caring for the people and animals caught in the crossfire. While thousands were forced to flee, Alaa spent his days carrying out perilous rescue missions in his makeshift ambulance and building a sanctuary for the city’s abandoned cats.

In turn, he created something unique: a place of tranquility for children living through the bombardment and a glimmer of hope for those watching in horror around the world. As word of Alaa’s courage and dedication spread, the kindness of strangers enabled him to feed thousands of local families and save hundreds of animals. But with the city under siege, time was running out for the last sanctuary in Aleppo and Alaa was about to face his biggest challenge yet…

This is the first memoir about the war in Syria from a civilian who remains there to this day, providing both a shocking insider account as well as an inspiring tale about how one person’s actions can make a difference against all odds.

To keep up with the day to day happenings at Ernesto’s Sanctuary (named for one of the rescue cats), animal lovers can virtually visit the rescue or make a donation at…


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.