Gaza animals find new home following deaths at zoo – Environment and Development

Five lions, five monkeys, four ostriches, three peacocks, two wolves and a hyena departed Gaza for Jordan on Sunday, after being rescued from a Gaza zoo where many animals died of starvation and lack of care.

The animal welfare group Four Paws international carried out the relocation, which also included dogs, cats, foxes, porcupines and 10 squirrels.

Fathy Jomaa, owner of the zoo in Rafah, southern Gaza, blamed bad economic conditions and a decade of Israeli-led blockade on the narrow coastal enclave for leaving him unable to properly feed and care for his animals.

Jomaa had come under intense criticism by animal care groups after a series of recent deaths and mishaps.

Four lion cubs died from cold during a storm in January. A monkey killed another, and a porcupine died more recently of unknown causes, said the owner. Earlier this year he de-clawed two young lions so that zoo visitors could safely pose for selfies with them.

Now only the birds remain at the site. They were left behind by Four Paws.

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. He said the animals would go to a sanctuary in Jordan.

“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, saying that economic hardship left him with no choice. “I hope they find a better place to live,” he said.

The head of the Land Crossings Authority at Israel’s Ministry of Defense, Shlomo Saban, said in a statement they “used every means at our disposal to help transfer the animals as quickly as possible”.

Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza for security reasons after the Islamist group Hamas took control of the territory in 2007. The World Bank says the blockade has reduced the territory, home to 2 million Palestinians, to a state of economic collapse. (Reuters)
Dozens of animals evacuated from Gaza zoo to sanctuaries – MAAN

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Four Paws, an international animal welfare organization, evacuated some 40 animals from the Rafah Zoo in the southern besieged Gaza Strip to sanctuaries in Jordan and South Africa, on Sunday.

Four Paws, which helps animals around the world, were forced to postpone the originally planned animal rescue mission in March due to the ongoing unrest in Gaza.

The mission was planned immediately after the manager of the Rafah zoo, Fathi Jumaa, posted video footage of a lioness being unprofessionally declawed.

The declawing video footage sparked outrage from rights groups worldwide, including Four Paws, calling it “an act of cruelty.”

On Sunday, veterinarians and volunteers from Four Paws evacuated animals, which included five lions, five monkeys, four ostriches, three peacocks, two wolves, a hyena, foxes, porcupines, and 10 squirrels, and plan to resettle them in sanctuaries in Jordan and South Africa.

During the mission, Jumaa said that “Gaza is a complicated environment for people and animals under the Israeli occupation.”

It is noteworthy that most of the animals in Gaza’s zoos were smuggled a few years ago from Egypt into Gaza through underground tunnels that ran beneath the border. The Egyptian army had destroyed these tunnels.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), about 1.3 million people in Gaza, about 68% of the population, were identified as “food insecure” in 2018.

International animal care groups have carried out several evacuation missions in recent years to relocate animals and birds in poor condition to sanctuaries outside Gaza.