Finally: Happy ending for Gaza zoo animals from Khan Younis
After sensational FOUR PAWS rescue mission, all 15 animals safe at new homes
Bethlehem/Brussels, 29.08.2016 – Years of suffering in desolate cages, starvation, lack of fresh water and an intense rescue mission conducted by FOUR PAWS – the 15 animals from Khan Younis Zoo in Gaza are now safe in their new homes. Since the end of last week, they have been enjoying their new homes, where they receive species-appropriate care. The five monkeys were the first to be released at the quarantine station of the Israeli Primate Sanctuary Foundation. Shortly following were the emu, the deer – who unfortunately lost her young fawn due to an injury shortly before the rescue – the turtles, the pelican, the long-legged buzzards and the porcupines. They all received a place at the New Hope Centre in Jordan. The Centre is part of the organisation Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife, which is run jointly by FOUR PAWS and the Princess Alia Foundation. The mission was finally completed when tiger Laziz arrived, after a delay of a few hours, in Johannesburg (South Africa) by plane and was released into his adaption enclosure at the FOUR PAWS Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK.
Ioana Dungler, Director of the Wild Animals Department at FOUR PAWS, was part of the rescue mission and accompanied Laziz on his entire journey: “Laziz remained surprisingly relaxed during the whole transfer as well as his release. There was an unintentionally hilarious moment when he tried to get out of his box with his backside first. This didn’t really work out, but finally he managed his first step on the new terrain. He needed a moment, then he started to sniff about and explore his new home.”
Dr Frank Göritz, principal veterinarian at IZW (Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research) in Berlin, monitored Laziz’ medical condition during the transfer. He is glad that the complex transport is finally accomplished, that Laziz has a species-appropriate home and is taken care of by experts now: “Despite the fact that Laziz had to suffer from starvation for some parts of his life as there was sometimes no food supply at the zoo, he is in a relatively fit state. I am confident that he will recover quickly from these stressors at LIONSROCK.” Meanwhile, Laziz has already enjoyed his first meal at LIONSROCK. He will stay in his adaption enclosure for some time to adjust to his new surroundings. When he is ready, he will be released in the adjoining permanent enclosure of one hectare.
The animals at the New Hope Centre already showed how much better they are doing in their species-appropriate enclosures after a short time: The deer limped considerably less than in its desolate cage at Khan Younis after only one day; the pelican splashed around in his new pool only minutes after his arrival; and the long-legged buzzards made good use of their considerably larger enclosure and were flying around to explore.
Dungler: “We are so happy that all animals have made it safely to their new homes. We were supported so much by everyone involved and are really thankful for that. A rescue mission of this extent would not have been possible without it.”
FOUR PAWS Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK, a project by FOUR PAWS, provides an appropriate, lifelong home for over 100 big cats that were kept in inadequate conditions in zoos, circuses or private captivity. The facility, founded for the big cats in 2007 in South Africa (Free State province, 18 km from the town of Bethlehem) offers the highest standards, including large areas for family groups; facilitation of natural behaviour through enrichment; and the highest standards of medical care and enclosures. In LIONSROCK hunting, trading or breeding of big cats is strictly prohibited. The park encompasses a total area of 1,250 hectares. The enclosures for the big cats cover an area of 60 hectares. In the rest of the park, other typical South African species live freely (e.g. zebras, wildebeests and other antelopes, etc.).