Four Paws' organisation rescues neglected animals at Gaza zoo

Members of Four Paws International carried out the fourth and largest animal rescue mission in the beleaguered war-torn Palestinian enclave

Members of Four Paws International carried out the fourth and largest animal rescue mission in the beleaguered war-torn Palestinian enclave

Thin and weakened, the 43 animals, including a wolf and monkeys, had been living in "terrible conditions", said the Four Paws association, which organized the transfer.

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. They were left behind by Four Paws.

The declawed lioness is likely to be sent on to a specialist care facility in the Netherlands, where profoundly traumatised animals are cared for in a calm space with a high keeper-to-beast ratio.

The group said the animals in the zoo had been mistreated by the owner, noting that a male and female lion and their cubs were kept under "horrific conditions" and that four of the cubs died in January. Bottom right: One of several foxes rescued.

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.

"It brings kind of a hope to the people to see the animals helped".

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Pelicans are pictured in a cage at a zoo in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, during the evacuation by members of the worldwide animal welfare charity "Four Paws" of animals from the Palestinian enclave to relocate to sanctuaries in Jordan, on April 7, 2019.

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.

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. Egypt meanwhile blockaded Gaza's southern border.

"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?" he told the BBC.

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".

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

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