Animals from a zoo in Gaza which has been branded the “worst zoo in the world,” were taken to Israel on Wednesday, where they will receive better care.
With the cooperation of the Israeli authorities, the animal welfare group Four Paws brought out a tiger, five monkeys, two ostriches, two gazelles, two tortoises, a swan and a porcupine via the Erez Crossing on Wednesday morning.
As on previous occasions, the move was made possible with help from the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison Office, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the Defense Ministry Crossings Authority and the local Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza.
The animals, which will be transferred to zoos in South Africa, Jordan, the Ben Shemen Monkey Park and the Safari Zoo in Ramat Gan, are the last from the Khan Yunis Zoo in the southern Gaza Strip. Their transfer, in effect, constitutes the closing of Khan Yunis Zoo, the operation of which had become very difficult in recent years.&
Special cages, veterinary equipment and medicines were brought into the Gaza Strip to facilitate optimal veterinary treatment of the animals before the actual transfer.
Uri Madar, from the Agriculture Ministry Gaza Coordination and Liaison Office said: “Given the less than satisfactory conditions and in the absence of the ability to continue caring for the animals at the Khan Yunis zoo, the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry assisted and coordinated the transfer of the animals to zoos in Israel and around the world. Over the last two years, the ministry transferred lions, a horse and other animals. Our veterinary services have been continually active and are devoted to the welfare and health of the animals. We are delighted and moved every time we are able to be of assistance in saving the lives of animals.”
Madar understated the situation. The horrendous conditions in the Gaza zoo had been making headlines, and the owner had asked Four Paws for help, which it provided in food and medical checks, along with earlier rescues.
The tiger, Laziz, was kept in a nine-foot-square cage alongside a taxidermied tiger. In his new home in South Africa, he will roam in a 30,000 square-foot enclosure where he will be able to enjoy swimming and climbing, according to an Associated Press report.
Highlighting the precariousness of the animals’ existence at the zoo, Khalil said a baby deer that was set to be evacuated died in the lead-up to the mission after being wounded. Its mother was also wounded but was successfully removed from the Gaza Strip.