GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Dozens of neglected animals were evacuated from a ramshackle Gaza zoo last Sunday in the fourth and largest such rescue mission in the blockaded Palestinian enclave.
Vets and volunteers from Four Paws International transported some 40 animals into Israel from the neglected zoo in the southern town of Rafah.
The animals, including lions, foxes, monkeys, pelicans, wolves and ostriches, will be resettled in sanctuaries in Jordan and South Africa.
“The zoo has been in a bad situation in recent years due to economic and political turmoil,” said Amir Khalil, a veterinarian from the Vienna-based organisation. “Most of the animals had a sort of traumatisation.”
Many of the 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.
The blockade and three wars between Israel and Hamas have made life miserable for Gaza’s two million residents. Animals kept in captivity have suffered from a combination of neglect and lack of resources on the part of zookeepers.
Some died of cold and hunger in makeshift zoos as keepers failed to provide adequate care, while others were killed during the 50-day war in 2014.