FOUR PAWS closes “worst zoo in the world”
Animals from Gaza’s Khan Younis Zoo get new homes
Brussels, 18.8.2016 – After long negotiations, a rescue mission finally has the green light: FOUR PAWS is actually going to be able to retrieve the 16 animals from Khan Younis Zoo in the Gaza Strip and transfer them to new homes. The logistics are now being planned at full speed, so that the mission can be executed as quickly as possible. An international team, made up of several vets together with logistics support, is preparing for the operation to be carried out in the next days. FOUR PAWS’ Dr Amir Khalil, who will once again head up the Gaza mission, explains: “The closure of the zoo means a new life for tiger Laziz and the other animals, which up to now have had to waste their lives away in desolate cages, suffering from a lack of food and medical care.”
Arrangements are being made to accommodate most of the animals, such as the tortoises, the porcupines and the emu, in Jordan’s ‘New Hope Centre’ for rescued animals. 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. However, as the facility currently has no enclosure for a big cat, tiger Laziz has a somewhat longer journey ahead: for him, it has been possible to fix a place at FOUR PAWS’ Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa, which is already a new home to over 100 other big cats from poor keeping conditions. After a familiarisation period in an adaptation enclosure, Laziz will move into a one-hectare enclosure with grassed areas, trees and a pond for bathing.
‘Bite the sour lemon’ now helping animals
The ‘Lemon Challenge’, launched recently by FOUR PAWS, aims to bring extra attention to the project. Many animal supporters have already taken part, uploading videos of themselves biting into lemons to their social media sites, and getting friends to join in and make donations to the rescue mission.
Dr Khalil appeals to people’s solidarity: “But the hardest part is still ahead of us. Just before we reach our goal, we need an extra boost of support from every single person. To actually get the animals out of the worst zoo in the world and transfer them to their new homes, every bite of the lemon and every donation helps!”
Link for donations: http://bit.ly/for-the-animals-in-gaza-INT
Taking part in the Lemon Challenge: https://youtu.be/JV50nPe4xdg
FOUR PAWS missions in Gaza
Early this year, financial difficulties meant that Khan Younis Zoo was no longer able to adequately care for and feed its animals. To attract more visitors and income, the owner even exhibited the mummified cadavers of animals that had already died. In the meantime, these ‘animal mummies’ have been removed, but the dubious reputation as ‘worst zoo in the world’ has stuck. In February this year, the owner asked FOUR PAWS for help, and the international animal welfare organisation organised urgent food supplies. In June, FOUR PAWS carried out an additional mission to assess the situation on the ground and take measures to improve it (medical checks, safety checks on enclosures etc.).
FOUR PAWS has also carried out several previous missions in Gaza. Back in September 2014, a team provided assistance to the badly damaged Al-Bisan Zoo in the north of the Gaza Strip. Three lions were transferred to New Hope Centre in Jordan. In April 2015, a FOUR PAWS emergency relief team carried out another aid mission, giving medical treatment and food to the animals in Khan Younis Zoo. September 2015 saw FOUR PAWS succeed in extracting two lion cubs from a refugee camp. Rafah Zoo had sold them as ‘pets’ to a father of six in the camp.