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Rescue team completes another harrowing mission to war zone

Rescued animals receive medical care in Turkey while FOUR PAWS team prepares for second-half of mission.


BOSTON - JULY 24, 2017 FOUR PAWS, the international animal welfare organization, successfully completed the first part of its high- risk rescue operation near Aleppo, Syria only months after completing a mission in Mosul, Iraq. Nine animals have been evacuated from an abandoned amusement park, but more remain trapped. In the wake of the fighting and turmoil, FOUR PAWS’ rescue team is planning to rescue the remaining animals while administering medical care to the already rescued wild animals.


On Friday July 21st, FOUR PAWS succeeded in evacuating three lions, two tigers, two Asian black bears, and two hyenas from “Magic World” amusement park near Aleppo. After a 24-hour road trip through Turkey, the animals have safely arrived at their temporary home in an animal protection center in Karacabey, Turkey near the city Bursa.


"The journey across Turkey was a tiring affair for all of us. Due to the extreme heat, we had to stop every three to four hours to check on the conditions of the animals and provide them with water,” stated FOUR PAWS Veterinarian and Head of Mission Dr. Amir Khalil. “We are thrilled that we were able to bring the animals safely to their first destination.”


The collaboration with international security experts has greatly contributed to the success of the months-long planned mission. A security team, with experience in Syria operations, evacuated the animals from the amusement park and brought them to the Syrian-Turkish border. There, the animals were handed over to the FOUR PAWS rapid response team and taken to Turkey.


After a quiet first night in the transport cages, FOUR PAWS veterinarians, assisted by local veterinarians, have begun comprehensive examinations of the traumatized and emaciated animals.


"For the first time, these animals are receiving thorough medical examinations by experts working with sophisticated equipment. In addition to blood tests, we will also perform ultrasound examinations on all animals to rule out any damages to internal organs,” explained Dr. Frank Göritz, Head Veterinarian of the Leibniz-Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research Berlin. Dr. Göritz and other local veterinarians are supporting the FOUR PAWS team. Dr. Göritz added, “Furthermore, we will closely check the condition of their eyes, skin, paws, and teeth. We expect to complete the check-ups within the next three days.”


The FOUR PAWS team will decide when and where each animal will be relocated based on each animal’s condition. "FOUR PAWS has very good options with its own animal sanctuaries, including those in Jordan, South Africa, and the Netherlands. We will individually decide which place is most suitable for each animal,” stated Dr. Khalil. The final location will further depend on the retrieval of the remaining animals left behind at the war-torn Syrian amusement park.


“We are currently working hard with our partners to get the remaining animals out of the zoo. If everything goes well, they will reach the Syrian-Turkish border in the coming days. We are not giving up on the remaining animals,” say Dr. Khalil.


The challenging rescue mission is financially supported by a donation from Eric Margolis. "I am very relieved that the first part of the rescue mission has been successful,” remarked Eric Margolis, American journalist, business man, and animal welfare activist. “This mission saved their lives. These animals were surrounded by exploding bombs and gunfire daily. The poor animals had no way to escape from their barren cages. I hope that the remaining animals will also be safe soon.”


FOUR PAWS has set up a donation page where animal lovers from all over the world can help provide a better future for the animals of Aleppo. To make a contribution please visit


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