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“Worst zoo in the world” now history: FOUR PAWS gets animals safely out of Gaza



Tiger Laziz on his way to South Africa


Brussels/Khan Younis, 24.08.2016 – Yesterday the FOUR PAWS rescue team managed to load all 15 remaining animals at Khan Younis Zoo and transported them over the border early this morning. Even the porcupines, which had gone missing, were found again and loaded safely. Porcupines, emu, pelican & Co are now on their way to the New Hope Centre in Jordan, where they will soon be released to their new enclosures. 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 five monkeys, one pregnant, are being transferred to the Primate Sanctuary Foundation in Israel. Tiger Laziz will need to be patient for a bit longer, he is on a slightly longer journey to the FOUR PAWS Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa. He will be transferred to Johannesburg by plane and then go to the sanctuary by car.


Team members of the international animal welfare organisation were working at full speed to check all the animals medically and load them into the transport crates. “A special challenge was the tight time schedule we had available. And we were quite worried if Laziz would go into his transport crate without any issues; we definitely wanted to avoid anesthetizing him if not absolutely necessary. But the tiger just went straight into the box as if he knew that we will bring him to a nice home. We were so relieved”, tells FOUR PAWS mission leader veterinary Dr Amir Khalil.


The loading of the emu however was a different story: Three team members were needed to catch the fast and agile animal to get him into the transport box. The apes were among the first animals in their crates and watched everything going on around them with interest. “The cages were covered with cloths, but they grabbed through the bars, pushed the cloths aside and watched us struggling to get everything done in the extreme heat. All the while there were sounds of explosions in the background reminding us where we are and what the animals had to endure.” says Indra Kley, member of the FOUR PAWS rescue team. All crates were lifted onto the truck by crane. The team took shifts guarding the vehicle and animals through the night.


The – now former – zoo owner is also quite relieved: „Saying goodbye to my animals is very sad for me, but I am incredibly glad that FOUR PAWS has found a nice home for them. I could barely put up with the fact that Khan Younis became known as the ‘worst zoo in the world’” Early this year, financial difficulties meant that Khan Younis Zoo was no longer able to adequately care for and feed its animals. In February this year, the owner asked FOUR PAWS for help, and the international animal welfare organisation arranged urgent food supplies. Now finally a sustainable solution for the surviving zoo animals.


Five veterinarians and two veterinary assistants of the agricultural ministry in Gaza were also involved in the mission. Dr Khalil took the chance to train his occupational colleagues in dealing with wild animals – an area they are unfortunately not very accustomed to. Dr Khalil: “It was important that we took advantage of the opportunity to involve local vets in our work. We hope that they will use their gained know-how in the future to better help animals in need in Gaza.”


Now, the happy ending for Laziz and the other animals will hopefully not be long in coming. Dr Khalil: “So many people have followed the progress of our mission eagerly and shown their solidarity with Laziz and the other animals. We are happy that we were finally able to close down Khan Younis Zoo.” Many animal lovers have supported the FOUR PAWS mission with their participation in the lemon challenge and the hashtag #2sour2ignore. The American actresses Alicia Silverstone, Kristin Davis and Kristin Bauer also shared news about the Gaza mission on their Social Media channels to support FOUR PAWS in this action.


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