Quantcast

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

Investing in grid infrastructure would enable utilities to incorporate modern technology, making the grid more resilient and flexible. STRATMAN2 / FLICKR

By Elliott Negin

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' recent decision to award the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to scientists who developed rechargeable lithium-ion batteries reminded the world just how transformative they have been. Without them, we wouldn't have smartphones or electric cars. But it's their potential to store electricity generated by the sun and the wind at their peak that promises to be even more revolutionary, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and protecting the planet from the worst consequences of climate change.

Read More Show Less
Two Javan rhinos deep in the forests of Ujung Kulon National Park, the species' last habitat on Earth. Sugeng Hendratno / WWF

By Basten Gokkon

The global population of the critically endangered Javan rhinoceros has increased to 72 after four new calves were spotted in the past several months.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A tiger looks out from its cage at a new resort and zoo in the eastern Lao town of Tha Bak on Dec. 5, 2018. Karl Ammann believes the "zoo" is really a front for selling tigers. Terrence McCoy / The Washington Post / Getty Images

Are tigers extinct in Laos?

That's the conclusion of a detailed new study that found no evidence wild tigers still exist in the country.

Read More Show Less

A group of scientists is warning that livestock production must not expand after 2030 for the world to stave off ecological disaster.

Read More Show Less
The largest wetland in Africa is in the South Sudan. George Steinmetz / Corbis Documentary / Getty Images Plus

Methane emissions are a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide – about 28 times more powerful. And they have been rising steadily since 2007. Now, a new study has pinpointed the African tropics as a hot spot responsible for one-third of the global methane surge, as Newsweek reported.

Read More Show Less