International animal charity Four Paws has responded to a “cry for help” from “the worst zoo in the world”.
Khan Younis Zoo was dubbed this following global negative media reports and pictures showing dead, mummified animals in enclosures next to living ones.
On arrival, the Four Paws team learned the zoo was no longer able to pay the keepers and there was no veterinary care provision. The few surviving animals, whose enclosures were covered in debris, had a scarce fresh water supply and no food.
Zoo manager Ziyad Oweida said: “We are relieved Four Paws is helping us now. There has been much media attention, but no one actually came to help us.”
Four Paws vet Amir Khalil said: “The zoo has no financial means whatsoever. The surviving big cats – one lioness and a tiger – are penned up in their destroyed enclosures and are highly emaciated. Many other animals have already starved. We will provide rapid veterinary care and food for the animals for the next three months.”
Due to the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip, exit and entry into the region is extremely difficult. Four Paws is the only animal welfare organisation to be granted permission to enter the area. On-site support is offered by French animal welfare organisation Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis.
In 2014, Four Paws carried out a similar operation at the damaged Al-Bisan zoo in Gaza. Three lions were rescued and transported to a transit rescue station in Jordan, while aid, food and veterinary care was given to the animals remaining in the zoo. Four Paws is working with the Princess Alia Foundation to open a new sanctuary for wild animals called “Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife”.
For more information, visit www.vier-pfoten.org/en/projects/big-cats/al-mawa-for-nature-and-wildlife