Over 40 zoo animals evacuated from Gaza

Published April 8, 2019
A truck carrying crates containing animals at Erez crossing on Sunday.—Reuters
A truck carrying crates containing animals at Erez crossing on Sunday.—Reuters

RAFAH: More than 40 animals, including five lions, were evacuated from squalid conditions in a Gaza Strip zoo on Sunday to be taken to Jordan, an animal welfare group said.

Thin and weakened, the 43 animals, including a wolf and monkeys, had been living in “terrible conditions,” said the Four Paws association, which organised the transfer.

The Rafah zoo in the southern Gaza Strip is the oldest in the enclave, which has been under an Israeli blockade for more than 10 years.

The animals were not in great shape, but were stable enough to be transported to a reserve in Jordan, some 300 kilometres (190 miles) from the Palestinian enclave, said Martin Bauer, spokesman for the Vienna-based welfare group.

The animals were sedated to be put in cages for the transfer through Israel. Two of the lions would eventually be sent to South Africa.

Four Paws was supposed to move ahead with the transfer in late March, but the organisation could not enter the enclave since the crossing was closed that week due to a flare-up of violence between Gaza militants and Israel.

Bauer said the mission had the support of the authorities in Gaza, run by Islamist movement Hamas, and of the zoo’s owner, who has said he could no longer afford the upkeep for the animals.

Israel’s permission was also received for the mission.

He said it was the biggest such mission carried out by Four Paws and intensive negotiations were required.

The zoo received attention recently when the owner revealed he had declawed one of its lions so customers could pay to play with her. In January, four lion cubs died of cold in the zoo.

The Gaza Strip suffers from poverty and a lack of infrastructure, including a severe electricity shortage.

Israel and Palestinian militants in the strip have fought three wars since 2008.

Four Paws says a number of animals at the zoo have died in bombings since its 1999 opening. In 2016, Four Paws helped facilitate the transfer of the sole tiger in the Gaza Strip, eventually relocating it to South Africa.

The organisation in 2017 rescued a lion and a bear from a zoo in Mosul in northern Iraq, a former stronghold of the militant Islamic State group.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2019



New Covid danger
30 Nov 2021

New Covid danger

The government’s messaging around the coronavirus and the potential threat of Omicron must be reactivated.
Updated 30 Nov 2021

Saudi conditions

DECADES of fiscal profligacy have trapped the country in a situation where it not only has to borrow more money to...
30 Nov 2021

Mental health concerns

THE economic and psychological effects of Covid-19, combined with the issues of joblessness and inflation, have had ...
Land misuse
Updated 29 Nov 2021

Land misuse

THE contrast could not be more stark, and elite capture no better illustrated. On the one hand are the middle-class...
29 Nov 2021

Act of altruism

DECEASED organ donation needs to become part of the national discourse. To that end, our lawmakers must adopt a far...
29 Nov 2021

Animal neglect

THE callousness shown by our state and society towards humanity is often such that it comes as no surprise that less...