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Rescued from starvation: FOUR PAWS helps again in Gaza

Animal welfare organisation provides for 40 animals in need at Khan Younis Zoo


FEBRUARY 9 2016 – GAZA - Laziz is nervously running up and down in his desolate cage. For weeks, the emaciated tiger has only been fed frozen chicken – if anything. He is the only tiger at Khan Younis Zoo in South Gaza who has survived. Many animals, including Laziz’s partners, have starved to death during the last few weeks. There is virtually no food left, no fresh water and no medicine. Moreover, Gaza is experiencing an especially hard winter with heavy rainfalls, which takes a lot out of the already weakened and hungry animals.


FOUR PAWS is there to provide much needed help. Together with local supporters, the international animal welfare organisation organised a large supply of animal feed that will help get the zoo animals through the next several weeks. The food will continue to be distributed to the roughly 40 surviving animals for the next four weeks. Besides the tiger, there are leopards, foxes, porcupines, apes, eagles and other birds. The FOUR PAWS team will also bring urgently needed medicine for the animals from Jordan to Gaza.


Despite Gaza being so small (45 km²), there are six zoos located within the borders. Most exotic animals where once smuggled from Egypt to Gaza via underground tunnels. Dr. Amir Khalil from FOUR PAWS, who organised the feed distribution from Jordan, stated “The situation has worsened since our last mission in April 2015. According to estimates, there were still 40 big cats in the summer of 2015. Now, it is said that there are only 15 left!” Dr. Khalil explained, due to the bad weather and ongoing conflict, there were no visitors at Khan Younis Zoo, which meant that the privately kept zoo did not have any income.


Another zoo in Gaza needing support, the Rafah Zoo, which houses four lions, will be supplied with food and medicine. “We would like to help all zoo animals, but we only have limited resources. We have already started an international call for donations and are urgently asking for support”, explained Dr. Khalil.


Because of the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip and the strict regulations concerning entry and exit, the task of the animal welfare workers on site is always a big challenge. Dr. Khalil stated, “The new feed supply was urgently needed, but it is still only a drop in the bucket. FOUR PAWS will continue to work on a sustainable solution for all captive wild animals in Gaza. But for this reason, all affected authorities in Gaza and Israel as well as the owners of the animals need to cooperate.”


Gaza relief missions are nothing new to FOUR PAWS. In September 2014, the organisation carried out an emergency mission in the heavily damaged Al-Bisan Zoo in the north of the Gaza Strip, where three lions were transferred to New Hope Center in Jordan. In April 2015, a FOUR PAWS emergency team carried out a relief operation to provide medical treatment and food to the animals in the run-down Khan Younis Zoo. In September 2015, FOUR PAWS finally transferred two lion cubs from a refugee camp. A father of six living in the camp had bought the cubs from Rafah Zoo as “pets”.


FOUR PAWS is working towards a longer term and more sustainable solution for the issue of captive wild animals in Gaza. Until that time, each food or rescue mission continues to rely on donations from concerned citizens around the world. Currently, FOUR PAWS is calling for funds to aid in the food and medical supplies so desperately needed.


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