Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

40+ Neglected Animals Evacuated From Gaza Zoo

Popular
Children look at a lion kept at the Rafah Zoo in Gaza in February. SAID KHATIB / AFP / Getty Images

Nearly fifty animals were rescued from a zoo in Gaza Sunday where animals had died from exposure and starvation, Reuters reported.


The animals, including five lions, five monkeys, four ostriches, three peacocks, two wolves and a hyena, were moved from a zoo in Rafah, Gaza to Jordan Sunday by the animal welfare charity Four Paws. The group said it was its largest rescue mission to-date. Most of the 47 animals will stay in animal sanctuaries in Jordan, while two of the lions were flown to South Africa Monday.

"The intensive work of the last weeks has brought our team to its limits. To examine and load almost 50 animals in just a few days was a huge challenge," Four Paws veterinarian and Head of Mission Amir Khalil said. "Thanks to the cooperation of all authorities, it was possible for us to bring the animals safely out of Gaza. From Israel to Palestine and Jordan, it was impressive to see how these three nations worked together for the animals from Rafah."

The Rafah Zoo came under international scrutiny at the beginning of 2019 when four lions cubs froze to death because of harsh weather and inadequate housing, Four Paws said. Also in 2019, the zoo's owner declawed a female lioness so that visitors could play with her. A petition circulated by Four Paws to close the zoo gained more than 150,000 signatures. Khalil told Reuters that the cages were too small for the animals and their children.

Zoo owner Fathy Jomaa blamed Israel and Egypt's ongoing blockade of Gaza and the territories' deteriorating economy for his inability to properly care for the animals. Jomaa ultimately contacted Four Paws about moving them to a new location, BBC News reported.

"It is a tough decision, I feel like I am losing my family. I lived with some of those animals for 20 years," Jomaa told Reuters. "I hope they find a better place to live."

The zoo, which opened in 1999, had been the oldest zoo in Gaza, but many animals had been collateral damage in rocket attacks and armed conflict.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a land, sea and air blockade of Gaza since 2007, after Hamas won parliamentary elections and assumed control of the territory following clashes with rival group Fatah, which controls the West Bank. There are 1.3 million Palestinians living in Gaza, and around 80 percent rely on aid, Time reported.

The more-than-10-year blockade has caused the economy in Gaza to deteriorate so severely that the UN warned it would be uninhabitable by 2020, Voice of America reported in September 2018. At the time of the report, unemployment in the territory is at 27 percent, the highest in the world. Most households only get two hours of electricity a day and only 10 percent of people have access to safe drinking water.

"My children get sick because of the water. They suffer from vomiting, diarrhea. Often, I can tell the water is not clean, but we have no other option," Gaza resident Madlain Al Najjar told PBS NewsHour in an interview.

In this context, residents were sad to lose the Rafah Zoo.

"The zoo is the only place where we could go for a break," Husam Sabawei told BBC News. "It was the only place for entertaining our children."

Four Paws has rescued animals from two other zoos in Gaza in 2014 and 2016.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Critics charge the legislation induces poor communities to sell off their water rights. Pexels

By Eoin Higgins

Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.

Read More Show Less
People enjoy outdoor dining along Pier Ave. in Hermosa Beach, California on July 8, 2020. Keith Birmingham / MediaNews Group / Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

California is reversing its reopening plans amidst a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Read More Show Less
A protest against the name of the Washington Redskins in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Nov. 2, 2014. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.

Read More Show Less
The survival tools northern fish have used for millennia could be a disadvantage as environmental conditions warm and more fast-paced species move in. Istvan Banyai / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma

Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.

Read More Show Less
A mother walks her children through a fountain on a warm summer day on July 12, 2020 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

A heat wave that set in over the South and Southwest left much of the U.S. blanketed in record-breaking triple digit temperatures over the weekend. The widespread and intense heat wave will last for weeks, making the magnitude and duration of its heat impressive, according to The Washington Post.

Read More Show Less
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus. blackCAT / Getty Images

By Joni Sweet

If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Aerial view of burnt areas of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2019. CARLOS FABAL / AFP via Getty Images

NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.

Read More Show Less