Four Paws' organisation rescues neglected animals at Gaza zoo

Clay Curtis
April 10, 2019

Uri Madar, agriculture coordinator for the Israeli body responsible for the crossings with the Gaza Strip, said his organization, COGAT, "sees this evacuation as a mission of ethics and will continue working in support of animal welfare in the Gaza Strip".

The Director of Information and Public Relations of the Ministry Fayez Al-Sheikh said the animals and birds have been moved from the Rafah Park in the southern Gaza Strip to the Highland Reserve in Jordan.

Pelicans are pictured in a cage at a zoo in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, during the evacuation by members of the global animal welfare charity "Four Paws" of animals from the Palestinian enclave to relocate to sanctuaries in Jordan, on April 7, 2019.

The rescued animals included five lions, foxes, monkeys, pelicans and ostriches.

The owner was compensated for the animals, but the amount paid has not been publicized.

Four Paws say they have taken the animals from Rafah Zoo near the border with Egypt.

Rafah Zoo in southern Gaza confirmed the agreement, saying they weren't receiving any funds for the animals and couldn't provide proper care for them in the strip.

The zoo in Rafah made horrific headlines in 2019 after four lion cubs froze to death in January, then only weeks later, shocking footage of a lioness being declawed with garden shears went around the globe.

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They were sedated for the journey 300 kilometres (190 miles) through Israel, which gave its permission for the transfer.

Bottom right: One of several foxes rescued.

He stressed that many animals died here due to weather and economic conditions as well as the military conflict between Israel and Palestinians.

Four Paws was supposed to carry out 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 and Israel.

Numerous animals were smuggled into Gaza via tunnels beneath the southern border with Egypt, which along with Israel has blockaded the territory since the Hamas militant group seized power there in 2007.

Mr Jomaa told Reuters: "It is a tough decision, I feel like I am losing my family".

The zoo's owner blamed an economic downturn coupled with an Israeli blockade for the zoo's poor conditions.

Four Paws veterinarian Amir Khalil, who led the rescue mission, said cages at the Gaza zoo had become too small to house the animals and their offspring.

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