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FOUR PAWS back to work in Gaza

Team on site carries out medical checks and seeks a solution for remaining animals


JUNE 10 2016 – FOUR PAWS, the international animal welfare organization, has already carried out emergency relief missions in the Gaza Strip several times to save animals from starvation and provide much needed medical assistance.


The Khan Younis Zoo has called for help again: The zoo owner has already had to sell several of his animals due to a lack of funds, and he now wishes to find a better solution for his remaining animals, with the help of FOUR PAWS. These animals include Laziz, the last tiger in Gaza, and a colourful menagerie of species such as a porcupine, tortoises, apes and others. All these animals are somewhat neglected and urgently need medical care. A FOUR PAWS team was able to enter Gaza yesterday and intends to stay there until the end of the week to thoroughly evaluate the situation on the ground.


Dr. Amir Khalil, team leader of the emergency mission in Gaza explained, “A long-term solution must be found for the animals as soon as possible. We’re going to give the animals medical treatment and check the enclosures for safety. This is a priority because in the worst case even visitors to the zoo could end up in danger if the tiger, or one of the other wild animals, escapes. We will then work with everyone involved to establish which approaches are feasible.”


Several months ago, Khan Younis Zoo earned a dubious reputation as “the worst zoo in the world”. When it came to light that the owner was not only having trouble looking after his living animals but was also displaying the dead ones mummified in their enclosures. Dr. Khalil again stated, “We’re hoping that our talks and our evaluation of the situation here will help us find the best possible solution for the animals.”


FOUR PAWS is the only global animal welfare organization that has been allowed to work between the borders of the Gaza Strip and Israel. FOUR PAWS was also called back in February to help in Gaza. Since then, the organization has been looking for a long-term solution for the problem of captive wild animals in the Gaza Strip. However, the organization has run up against a variety of obstacles. A particularly harsh winter in Gaza saw visitor numbers fall, and the zoos there were unable to generate much income. FOUR PAWS organized food distribution to help the affected animals ward off starvation. In the meantime, the financial situation has somewhat improved, but the animals are still having to live in extremely poor conditions and without adequate medical care.


Aside from the logistical barriers that hinder operations in Gaza, there are also no legal laws or provisions concerning the private keeping of wild animals there. This means that FOUR PAWS can only step in to help if all involved parties are prepared to cooperate including animal and land owners, officials and government representatives from Israel, Gaza and Jordan (since our missions require traveling by land through all three).


FOUR PAWS carried out its first Gaza operations back in September 2014 in the badly damaged Al-Bisan Zoo in the north of the Strip. Three lions were transferred to a rescue centre in Jordan. In April 2015, a FOUR PAWS emergency relief team provided medical treatment and fodder to the animals in the derelict Khan Younis Zoo. Then, in September, FOUR PAWS recovered two lion cubs from a refugee camp since the Rafah Zoo had sold them as “pets” to a father of six. Ultimately, FOUR PAWS’ aim in the region is to rescue or aid any wild animal in captivity living in dangerous and unhealthy conditions.