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FOUR PAWS closes the “worst zoo in the world”

Animals from Gaza’s Zoo get new homes


BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18, 2016 - After long negotiations, a daring rescue mission finally has the green light: FOUR PAWS is finally going to be able to rescue the 16 animals from Khan Younis Zoo in the Gaza Strip and, not only transfer them to new homes, but close the so-called “worst zoo in the world” for good! 


Logistics are being expedited, allowing the mission to be executed in the coming days. An international team, made up of several veterinarians, will be traveling for the operation with logistical support from several countries. FOUR PAWS’ Dr. Amir Khalil, who will head up the Gaza mission, explained, “The closure of the zoo means a new life for the tiger Laziz and the other animals, which up to now have had to waste their lives away in desolate cages, suffering from a lack of food and medical care.”


Arrangements are being made to accommodate most of the animals, such as the tortoises, the porcupines and the emu, in Jordan’s New Hope Centre for rescued animals. The center is part of the organization “Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife”, which is run jointly by FOUR PAWS and the Princess Alia Foundation. However, as the facility currently has no enclosure for a big cat, Laziz has a somewhat longer journey ahead: for him, it has been possible to secure a place at FOUR PAWS’ Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa, which is already home to over 100 other big cats rescued from around the world. Once Laziz has become accustomed to his temporary enclosure, he will then be move into an enclosure that includes a pond for swimming and over 2 acres of grassy fields and trees.




The Lemon Challenge, recently launched by FOUR PAWS, aims to bring awareness to the rescue and to raise funds for the mission. Many animal supporters have already taken part, uploading videos of themselves making sour faces while biting into lemons, getting friends to join in and make donations to the rescue mission. Dr. Khalil appealed to people’s solidarity, “the hardest part is still ahead of us. Just before we reach our goal, we need an extra boost of support from every single person. To actually get the animals out of the worst zoo in the world and transfer them to their new homes”. Every sour bite and every donation helps!


Link for donations:

To take part in the Lemon Challenge:


FOUR PAWS missions in Gaza


Early this year, financial difficulties meant that Khan Younis Zoo was no longer able to adequately care for and feed its animals. To attract more visitors and income, the owner even exhibited the mummified cadavers of animals that had already died. These ‘animal mummies’ have since been removed, but the dubious reputation as ‘worst zoo in the world’ has stuck. In February this year, the owner asked FOUR PAWS for help, and the international animal welfare organization stepped in with urgent food deliveries. In June, FOUR PAWS carried out an additional mission to assess the situation on the ground and take measures to improve it by medical checks, safety checks on enclosures, etc.


FOUR PAWS had also carried out several previous missions in Gaza. Back in September 2014, a team provided assistance to the badly bombed Al-Bisan Zoo in the north of the Gaza Strip. Three lions were transferred to a rescue center in Jordan. In April 2015, a FOUR PAWS emergency relief team carried out another aid mission, giving medical treatment and food to the animals in Khan Younis Zoo. September 2015 saw FOUR PAWS succeed in extracting two lion cubs from a refugee camp. The cubs were sold as ‘pets’ to a father of six by the Rafah Zoo.


FOUR PAWS is the only animal protection organization active in the region and has taken the plight of captive wild animals very seriously. Dedicated to finding a sustainable, long-term solution for all wild captive animals in Gaza, FOUR PAWS is encouraged by the closing of Khan Younis. All in all, there are six zoos in the Gaza Strip.


It is suggested that with each sour bite from the #2sour2ignore campaign, FOUR PAWS will be able to do more for all the neglected zoo animals in Gaza.


Find the teaser trailer for our mission below: