Israel assists the transfer of starving lions from destroyed Gaza zoo to Jordan

Gaza‘s Bisan City Zoo, also home to Hamas rocket launchers, did not escape the destruction from the IDF’s attacks during ‘Operation Protective Edge’.

Among the few animals that managed to survive are 2 lions & a lioness, that are currently in a state of starvation & trauma.

By Roi Kais

 

Two lions and a pregnant lioness were transferred Tuesday from the Bisan City Zoo in the northern Gaza Strip to a zoo in Jordan via Israel.

A lion and lioness at the Bisan City Zoo

A lion and lioness at the Bisan City Zoo

The lions are being transferred following the dreadful state the Bisan City Zoo was left in as a result of the recent war in Gaza. Dozens of animals died during the seven-week conflict between Israel and Hamas and many suffered both physical and mental injuries.

En route to Jordan, the three lions’ cages underwent security checks at Erez border crossing by an authorized veterinarian.

The complicated operation was conducted by the international organization “Four Paws” which rescues animals in third world countries.

The cages used to transfer the lions to Jordan (Photo: VIER PFOTEN International)

The cages used to transfer the lions to Jordan – Photo: VIER PFOTEN International

Earlier this month, the organization announced its intention to send representatives to the Strip to start the rehabilitation of the zoo and save the surviving animals.

In September, a delegation on behalf of “Four Paws” arrived at the Gaza Strip to supply medicine, nutrition and water to the animals, about 20 in total. The head of the delegation, Dr. Amir Khalil, said he was shocked by the zoo’s poor state.

“Most of the cages were badly damaged and animal carcasses were scattered all over the place. Very few animals managed to survive, among them the two lions and lioness who are currently in a state of trauma and fatigue,” said Dr. Khalil.

A lion being tranquilized before the transfer

A lion being tranquilized before the transfer

According to the organization, more than 80 of the Bisan Zoo animals were killed during Operation Protective Edge.

The only zoo in the Gaza Strip, located at Beit Lahiya, did not escape the destruction in the Strip caused by the IDF’s attacks. Foreign reporters who visited the zoo after the military dispute said they saw destroyed rocket launchers in its vicinity. The launchers were probably bombarded and as a result the zoo suffered hits as well.

The zoo’s chief veterinarian, Abu Sameer, said that the state of the zoo is dreadful. “During the military operation, several monkeys, a lion, a fox and a peacock were killed and the surviving animals suffer severe trauma from the deafening explosions.”

“We don’t have the funds to buy food for the animals and as a result they haven’t been fed for days and are very weak and suffer from malnutrition. Unfortunately, since most of the structures were destroyed, we can’t even take the animals out of their cages to clean, so some of the animals died as result of filth-related diseases,” said the vet.

The vet said that the zoo keepers couldn’t reach the zoo and attend to the animals during the fighting and therefore they haven’t eaten for 10 days in a row.

“Only during the ceasefire we managed to get to the animals, but all we had to give them was drinking water,” he added.

The Bisan City Zoo was established in 2008 and was used as a new tourist attraction to Gaza residents. Most of its animals were smuggled from Egypt throughout the years via the Philadelphi Route. In addition to the lions, the zoo is also home to various types of monkeys, eagles, geese, camels and turtles.

The zoo directors understand that its rehabilitation is low in priority following the need to first rebuild destroyed homes and infrastructures.

“Before the fighting, this was a very beautiful area; there were trees and lawns and an amusement park for children to play in. Nowadays, the most important thing for us is to feed the animals and rebuild the zoo so it will be fit of animal habitation,” said Farid al-Hissi, one of the Bisan Zoo employees.

 

View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4576346,00.html

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