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Escaping Syria: 13 animals triumph

FOUR PAWS concludes final mission to Syria bringing two lions and two dogs to Turkey for medical treatment.


BOSTON - JULY 29, 2017 – Thirteen captive animals have successfully escaped war- torn Syria. With support from the Turkish government and local security experts, FOUR PAWS, the international animal welfare organization, has completed both rescue missions to liberate the surviving animals of the “Magic World” zoo near Aleppo.


Two lions and two dogs were all that remained after nine animals had been rescued last Friday. These survivors were trapped, living out their final days amidst gunshots and bomb explosions. But FOUR PAWS was determined not to leave them behind.


“Unfortunately, the male hyena is completely blind and the female is suffering from a severe kidney disease. The medical conditions of both tigers have also take a hit. One suffered a cardiac arrest but we were able to resuscitate him,” reported Dr. Frank Göritz, Head Veterinarian of the Leibniz-Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research Berlin.  Dr. Frank Göritz is supporting the FOUR PAWS team among other local vets.


The five lions, two tigers, two Asian black bears, two hyenas, and two dogs will remain in Karacabey until they are fit to be transported to their final species-appropriate home. “Given the critical condition of some of the animals, we need to transfer them to a place that is well- equipped for medical treatments as soon as possible,” explained Dr. Khalil. “FOUR PAWS operates animal sanctuaries in Jordan, South Africa and the Netherlands. These would both be good options for the animals.” Despite the animals’ traumatic states, all thirteen animals are expected to survive.


The cooperation with the Turkish Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, Turkish volunteers, and security experts have been essential to the success of the mission. The security team handled the evacuation of the animals from the zoo and their transport to the Syrian-Turkish border. Once at the border, the FOUR PAWS rapid response team took the animals into their care and brought them to Turkey.


“We would not have been able to achieve these rescues without the many Turkish volunteers who helped with the logistics and provided us with important contacts on-site. Many of them took time out of their jobs and even came from abroad to help,” shared Dr. Khalil. “We are also very grateful for the support of the Turkish government and thank them for opening their border for us. The help that we have received in Karacabey is also tremendous.”


The challenging rescue operation was financially supported by a substantial donation from the US journalist, businessman, and animal conservationist, Eric Margolis. “I am so relieved that the rescue operation was successful. I look forward to visiting the animals soon in their new homes,” shared Margolis.


FOUR PAWS has set up a donation page where animal lovers from all over the world can go to help provide a better future for these animals. Please go to to show your support!


Regular updates about the mission can be found on the following FOUR PAWS social media channels:

© FOUR PAWS | Ahu Savan An, FOUR PAWS | Jasmine Duthie