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Animals from "Worst Zoo in the World” now rehomed

Animals all safely out of Gaza, Tiger Laziz landed in South Africa last night


SYDNEY AUGUST 25,  2016 – Yesterday, the FOUR PAWS rescue team managed to load all 15 remaining animals at Khan Younis Zoo and transported them over the border early this morning. Laziz, the last remaining tiger in Gaza, stole the show by entering his transportation crate voluntarily and remaining calm and cooperative with rescuers. Even the porcupines, which had temporarily gone missing right before the mission, were found and loaded safely.


The porcupines, emu, pelican among others are now on their way to the New Hope Centre in Jordan, where they will soon be released to their new enclosures. The Centre is part of the organization Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife, which is run jointly by FOUR PAWS and the Princess Alia Foundation.


The five monkeys, one pregnant, are being transferred to the Primate Sanctuary Foundation in Israel. Laziz’s patient was tested for a bit longer as he had a slightly longer journey to the FOUR PAWS Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa. He transferred to Johannesburg and then travelled to the sanctuary by car.


Team members of the international animal welfare organization were working at full speed to check all the animals medically and load them into the transport crates. “A special challenge was the tight time schedule we had available. And we were quite worried if Laziz would go into his transport crate without any issues; we definitely wanted to avoid anesthetizing him if not absolutely necessary. But the tiger just went straight into the box as if he knew that we will bring him to a nice home. We were so relieved”, explained FOUR PAWS mission leader veterinary Dr Amir Khalil.


The loading of the emu however was a different story: Three team members were needed to catch the fast and agile animal to get him into the transport box. The apes were among the first animals in their crates and watched everything going on around them with interest. “The cages were covered with cloths, but they grabbed through the bars, pushed the cloths aside and watched us hustling to get everything done in the extreme heat. All the while there were sounds of explosions in the background reminding us where we are and what the animals had to endure.” saied Indra Kley, member of the FOUR PAWS rescue team. Crates were then lifted onto the truck by crane. The team took shifts guarding the vehicle and animals through the night.


Besides the veterinarians and logistics personnel, the transfer is also accompanied by the Austrian blogger Madeleine Alizadeh (“dariadaria”). She visited LIONSROCK in 2015 when she accompanied the transfer of six tigers from the Big Cat Centre FELIDA in the Netherlands to South Africa. “I am able to witness one more time how tireless this team is and how important their work is. It wasn’t easy, regarding the many struggles we were facing in an area like this, but everything worked out well”, Ms. Alizadeh said in a statement about her experience.


The – now former – zoo owner is also quite relieved as he explained, “Saying goodbye to my animals is very sad for me, but I am incredibly glad that FOUR PAWS has found a nice home for them. I could barely put up with the fact that Khan Younis became known as the ‘worst zoo in the world’.” Early this year, financial difficulties meant that Khan Younis Zoo was no longer able to adequately care for and feed its animals. In February this year, the owner asked FOUR PAWS for help, and the international animal welfare organization arranged urgent food supplies. Now finally a sustainable solution was found to rescue the surviving zoo animals.


Now, the happy ending for Laziz and the other animals will hopefully not be long in coming. Dr Khalil again said, “So many people have followed the progress of our mission eagerly and shown their solidarity with Laziz and the other animals. We are happy that we were finally able to close down Khan Younis Zoo.” Many animal lovers have supported the FOUR PAWS mission with their participation in the lemon challenge and the hashtag #2sour2ignore: An online campaign aimed at raising awareness and funds for the rescue mission. The American actresses Alicia Silverstone, Kristin Davis and Kristin Bauer also shared news about the Gaza mission on their social media channels to support FOUR PAWS in this action.