Dozens of neglected animals evacuated from Gaza Strip zoo

A truck carrying crates containing animals leaves Gaza after the animals were taken out of a Gaza zoo by FOUR PAWS organization at Israeli Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip

A truck carrying crates containing animals leaves Gaza after the animals were taken out of a Gaza zoo by FOUR PAWS organization at Israeli Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip

Approximately 40 neglected zoo animals were evacuated on Sunday from a dilapidated zoo in the Gaza Strip by an worldwide animal-welfare group, the fourth such rescue mission from the Hamas-controlled area.

A member of the worldwide animal welfare charity Four Paws worker carries a sedated fox during the evacuation of the animals from a Gaza zoo.

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories - More than 40 animals, including five lions, were evacuated from squalid conditions in a Gaza Strip zoo on Sunday to be taken to Jordan, an animal welfare group said.

The Four Paws International charity said the animals would be taken out of a zoo in the Palestinian enclave and relocated to sanctuaries in Jordan next week. Four lion cubs died at the zoo earlier this year, and Mr Jomaa contacted Four Paws to help move the creatures.

Numerous animals were smuggled into Gaza via tunnels beneath the southern border with Egypt, which along with Israel has blockaded the territory since the Hamas militant group seized power there in 2007.

Israel and Palestinian militants in the strip have fought three wars since 2008. Animals kept in captivity have suffered from a combination of neglect and lack of resources on the part of zookeepers.

Amir Khalil, a veterinarian with the global animal welfare charity "Four Paws" walks in front of cages containing animals at a zoo in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, during the evacuation by the organisation of animals from the Palestinian enclave to relocate to sanctuaries in Jordan.

A truck carrying crates containing animals leaves Gaza after the animals were taken out of a Gaza zoo by FOUR PAWS organization at Israeli Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip

The owner was compensated for the animals, but the amount paid has not been publicized.

Only birds were left behind at the zoo by the group.

One of the lionesses had been declawed in order to make her more appealing to cuddle-seeking visitors, something Mr Bauer described as "like having your fingers removed", and four lion cubs died of the cold this past winter.

Four Paws was supposed to carry out the transfer in late March, but the organisation could not enter the enclave since the crossing was closed that week due to a flare-up of violence between Gaza and Israel.

'When we raise a cat for a week or a month we feel sad to lose it but what about suddenly losing animals that I have lived with for 20 years?'

The head of the Land Crossings Authority at Israel's Ministry of Defence, Shlomo Saban, said in a statement Israel had "used every means at our disposal to help transfer the animals as quickly as possible".

The owner was compensated for the loss of the animals although the amount he was paid was not revealed.

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