Rescued animals from Gaza zoo find new homes

Fri Aug 26, 2016 8:53am EDT
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By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - The last survivors of a Gaza zoo, where dozens of animals died of starvation and children petted stuffed carcasses, left on Wednesday for sanctuary outside the Palestinian territory.

Economic hardship deepened by war with Israel brought death to most of the menagerie of 200 at the privately owned complex in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the enclave.

The 15 remaining animals rescued by the Four Paws international animal welfare group included a tiger, porcupines, an emu and five monkeys. A baby deer that was to have made the journey died in "a desolate cage" last week, the organization said.

"'Worst zoo in the world' now history," Four Paws declared in a statement announcing the zoo's closure.

Israel, which maintains tight restrictions on its border with Hamas Islamist-run Gaza, allowed the animals through the frontier and dubbed the transfer "Operation Safari".

Some were destined for new homes in sanctuaries in Israel and Jordan, and the tiger will be flown to Four Paws' Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa.

Four Paws said Gaza mission leader, veterinarian Amir Khalil, had now trained local colleagues in caring for wild animals.

"We hope they will use their gained know-how in the future to better help animals in need in Gaza," Khalil said.   Continued...

Laziz, an 8-year-old tiger, part of group of 15 animals from Gaza, the last survivors of the "worst zoo in the world", where dozens of animals died of starvation, is checked at the Hebrew University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Rishon LeZion in Israel, after leaving Gaza on Wednesday for sanctuary out the Palestinian territory, in a rescue mission organised by international animal welfare group Four Paws August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Nir Elias