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Rescued from starvation: FOUR PAWS helps again in Gaza


Animal welfare organisation steps in to help 40 animals in need at Khan Younis Zoo in Gaza

Laziz is nervously running up and down in his desolate cage. For weeks, the emaciated tiger has only been fed on frozen chicken – if at all. He is the only surviving tiger at Khan Younis Zoo in South Gaza. Many animals, including Laziz’s partners, have died in recent weeks. There is virtually no food left, no fresh water and no medicine. Moreover, Gaza is experiencing an especially harsh winter with heavy rainfalls, which takes a lot out of the already weakened and hungry animals.


Again, help will be provided by FOUR PAWS. Together with local supporters, the international animal welfare organisation has organised a large supply of animal feed, which will help get the zoo animals through the next weeks. Meat was bought for the big cats, but also corn. Last Sunday, the feed could be distributed to the approximately 40 surviving animals that inhabit the zoo. Besides the tiger, there are also leopards, foxes, porcupines, apes, eagles and other birds. The feeding will be repeated weekly for the next four weeks. Moreover, the FOUR PAWS team were able to bring urgently needed medicine for the animals from Jordan to Gaza.


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


In the coming days FOUR PAWS will also supply much needed food and medicine to another needy zoo in Gaza, Rafah Zoo, which is also inhabited by four lions.  “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 on!”, explains Dr. Khalil.


Because of the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip entry and exit to the area is very strictly regulated, making the task of the animal welfare workers on site particularly challenging. Dr. Khalil: “The new feed supply was urgently needed, but it is still only a small drop in the ocean. FOUR PAWS will continue to work on a sustainable solution for all 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.”


In September 2014 FOUR PAWS carried out an emergency mission in the heavily-damaged Al-Bisan Zoo in the north of the Gaza Strip, and three lions were also 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”.