Gaza Zoo - We have achieved the impossible 

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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Declawed lioness, stuffed animals and frozen lion cubs

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. 

A life in tiny and desolated cages 

Dozens of animals – including five lions, a hyena, several monkeys, wolves, emus, cats, dogs and exotic birds were suffering.

Dogs at Rafah Zoo

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.


Unscrupulous zoo owner

He announced that the claws of the other lions would also be removed – if necessary without the help of a veterinarian!


Young lioness brutally mutilated!

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


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.

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 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 Muna to a local who gave them to his grandchildren as a present. We confiscated the cubs and brought them to Al Ma'wa for Nature & Wildlife sanctuary in Jordan.

Declawed lioness recovering

Update about declawed lioness, Marion 

The caretakers at the sanctuary soon discovered that she suffered from a bad infection due to the brutal treatment in Gaza. In order to reduce her pain a new surgery on her paws was necessary and performed last week by the onsite vets. The surgery was successful, and although she still is under treatment, Marion is recovering well. The staff of Al Ma'wa are taking good care of her and providing Marion with everything she needs! 


Integration of lions 

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


FOUR PAWS transfers animals

The three lions cubs, among them the declawed lioness, are released at Al Ma'wa for Nature and Wildlife and the two adult lions are transferred to our sanctuary, LIONSROCK in South Africa. The other animals are either released into the wild (in a protected area) or stay at the New Hope Center, in Amman. 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

D-Day, the animals are evacuated and transferred to Jordan, at the New Hope Center.


Another entry attempt, the FOUR PAWS team manages to enter the Gaza Strip.


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.

Declawed lioness receiving treatment

Cruel Declawing

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

Dead lions cubs at Rafah Zoo

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 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.


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Khan Younis Zoo is history!

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


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Cubs Max and Muna 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. Max and Muna are now safe at Al Ma'wa sanctuary.


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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.


The animals still need your help

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

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