Israel recently aided in the transfer of an ailing lion from Hamas-controlled Gaza. The lion was taken from a closed zoo in Rafah to a zoo near Tulkarem in PA-controlled Samaria. The rescue mission was a joint effort of the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and the Hamas-run Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza. It was the latest in a series of undertakings to rescue Gaza’s lions.
In July 2015, Israel facilitated the transfer to Jordan of two lion cubs owned by a Gaza resident who could no longer afford their upkeep. And the previous year during Operation Protective Edge, three lions were sent from Gaza to Jordan after the zoo’s location became a conflict zone in the Hamas-launched war.
In one zoo, in the southern city of Khan Yunis, only a deer, a pelican, an ostrich, two porcupines and a tiger remain of the hundreds of animals bought in for its opening in 2007.
According to The Daily Mail, dozens of animals starved and parched to death in what the newspaper called “the world’s worst zoo.” The animals were captives of the Khan Younis zoo in the Gaza Strip, where they “were left without food due to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict, as staff were unable to feed or care for them properly” according to the owner.
Gaza resident Mohammed Awaida opened the zoo in 2007, and according to the Mail invested “hundreds of thousands of dollars” into it. He says he lost a number of animals during the war which began a year later.
By now the living are far outnumbered by the dead, which the zoo’s owner has preserved using rudimentary taxidermy skills learned online.
Awaida claims that it was impossible to care for the animals during the wars, and also says that he has had no visitors to the zoo because of the Hamas -Israel comflict. The above photo suggests that the zoo is still an attraction, despite the animals’ being dead.
One tiger, Laziz, remains alive. The animal is currently being fed through the efforts of Four Paws International, which organized a large shipment of food from Jordan to the zoo.
The owner says he would like to sell the tiger for $30,000.00, sell the land, and close the zoo. For the remaining handful of animals, it can’t happen soon enough.