Representatives from an animal welfare group evacuated dozens of neglected animals from a Gaza zoo on Sunday. This is not the first time animals were evacuated from the coastal enclave.
The evacuation was considered a mercy mission after four lion cubs died in January and a lioness was declawed. The animals had been smuggled into Gaza through tunnels between Gaza and Egypt and were kept in neglectful, sometimes inhumane, conditions. Many animals died of cold and hunger.
Veterinarians and volunteers from Vienna-based Four Paws International transported 40 animals into Israel from the zoo including lions, monkeys, ostriches, peacocks, wolves, a hyena, foxes, porcupines and squirrels. The animals will be resettled in Jordan and South Africa.
Uri Madar, Israel’s agriculture coordinator for Gaza crossings, said the move was “a mission of ethics.” Four Paws International has carried out four such rescues and has treated animals and birds in Gaza before.
“The zoo has been in a bad situation in recent years due to economic and political turmoil,” veterinarian Amir Khalil said. “Most of the animals had a sort of traumatization.”