We managed to save more than 40 animals from Rafah Zoo. A huge thank you goes out to everyone who supported this mission. We'll keep you updated what happens next so you can be part of the freed animal's journey into their new lives - stay tuned!

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Over 40 animals were suffering in Rafah Zoo, Gaza. At the beginning of 2019, Gaza's oldest zoo attracted worldwide attention. Four lion cubs froze to death there due to the harsh weather and poor keeping conditions. Only a few weeks later, a 14-month-old lioness was permanently mutilated by the brutal and unprofessional removal of her claws. Almost 150,000 people demanded immediate action - and fortunately we were able to follow that call. 

Young lioness brutally mutilated!

The owner of the oldest zoo in Gaza allows visitors to play with a lioness and therefore cruelly removed her claws with garden shears.

Over 40 animals are suffering

The small zoo in Rafah was opened in 1999, located in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip, close to the border with Egypt.

A life in tiny and desolated cages

Currently, 49 animals – including five lions, a hyena, several monkeys, wolves, emus, cats, dogs and exotic birds are suffering.

What do we know about rafah zoo?

In 2004, the zoo in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip was almost completely demolished. Some of the animals were killed, stuffed and are on display at the zoo.


While they are freed from the zoo, we need to make sure they have a bright future


Our past actions in Gaza

We wanted to finally put an end to the suffering of the animals in Rafah Zoo. FOUR PAWS has been active in Gaza since 2014 and has already evacuated and closed down two zoos (Al-Bisan and Khan Younis) in the region. The former inhabitants were transferred to FOUR PAWS sanctuaries.

Even before this most recent mission, the zoo in Rafah was well known to us. In 2015, the owner of the zoo sold the two lion cubs Max and Mona to a local who gave them to his grandchildren as a present. We confiscated the cubs and brought them to the Al Ma'wa for Nature & Wildlife sanctuary in Jordan.


Socialization of lions

Integration of the three cubs from the Rafah Zoo (Laith, Labwa, and Marion the declawed lioness) with three other cubs confiscated in Jordan (Pablo, Dohal and Layla) is successful.


FOUR PAWS transfers the animals

The three lions cubs, among them the declawed lioness, are released to Al Ma’Wa for Nature and Wildlife, a cooperation project between FOUR PAWS and the Princess Alia Foundation. Two adult lions are transferred to our sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa. Other animals are either released into the wild (in a protected area) or remain at the New Hope Center in Amman, Jordan. The dogs and cats are under the care of the Humane Center for Animal Welfare until they can be sent to their new homes.


 FOUR PAWS Rescues animals from Rafah Zoo

The animals from the Rafah Zoo, also known as the Zoo of Sorrows, are evacuated and transferred to Jordan at the New Hope Center.


Successful entry

During the team's second entry attempt, a FOUR PAWS rescue team successfully enters the Gaza strip to save the animals of the Rafah Zoo.


First Entry Attempts

First attempt for the FOUR PAWS team to enter Gaza. Due to the military escalation and the closing of the borders at that period, the team had to go back and postpone the rescue.


Cruel declawing

Declawing of one of the lionesses. This operation was described as cruel in the local newspapers.


Lion cubs freeze

4 lions cubs were born at the Rafah Zoo and tragically passed away due to freezing conditions.


FOUR PAWS start negotiations with the Rafah Zoo

Assessment trip to Gaza, Rafah Zoo in order to provide some care for the animals. Start of the negotiations. Owner willing to hand over the animals and close the zoo.


Khan Younis Zoo is history!

FOUR PAWS conducted an intense rescue mission to save the remaining 15 animals at Khan Younis Zoo. 


Cubs from Rafah Zoo are safe!

In 2015, a father of six bought the cubs from Rafah Zoo as a treat for his grandchildren. The new ‘pets’ quickly pushed the family to their financial and physical limits. FOUR PAWS rescued the two cubs from this irresponsible private keeping.


FOUR PAWS closed Al-Bisan Zoo and rescued the animals!

More than 80 animals died when a zoo in northern Gaza was severely damaged by air strikes. An emergency team by FOUR PAWS managed to get there and help the 20 surviving animals. Dr. Amir Khalil and his team delivered urgently needed medicine and food. Luckily, FOUR PAWS was able to close down the zoo.