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.
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.
Since the opening in 1999 many of the animals have died due to being caught in the centre of rocket attacks and war battles.
5 lions ...
were suffering there, as well as a hyena, several wolves, monkeys, cats, dogs, ostriches, emus and other birds.
Over 40 animals
The zoo was very small and covered an area of only about 10,000 square metres. The cages were tiny, dirty and old.
The owner ran out of funds and was no longer able to provide food for the animals. Neither could they improve their living conditions or expand their enclosures. Immediate action was needed!
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 Mona 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.
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.
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 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. Read more here.
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.