Days of Palestine, Gaza Strip –Three traumatized lions left on Tuesday Gaza heading to Jordan as their zoo was destroyed by Israeli strikes during the recent war.
Austrian veterinarians from international animal welfare group Four Paws took charge of bringing the animals from the Bisan Zoo in the Gaza Strip to a zoo in Amman, obtaining special permission to pass through ‘Israel.’
The big cats were sedated, placed in metal cages and loaded onto a truck that transferred them through the Israeli Eretz Crossing.
Amir Khalil of Four Paws said the lions — two males and a female — were in desperate need for help after their zoo came under heavy Israeli fire during the 51-day war on the Gaza Strip, which ended with an August 26 ceasefire.
“The animals are stressed, violent and afraid of the slightest movement,” he said. “The animals are very sensitive and the detonations from the bombings and explosions had a very strong impact on them.”
Khalil said the zoo was badly damaged from Israeli tank shelling and airstrikes, and that 80 animals were killed during the conflict.
Bisan Zoo had four lions before the war but one of them — a female — was killed by the Israeli bombardment.
Khalil said the vets had treated several animals that will remain at the zoo and are suffering from a lack of food and water. They also removed shrapnel from the bodies of several dead animals.
The zoo is hoping to rebuild its lion enclosure so the animals can one day return to Gaza but no potential date has been set for their return.
The zoo — part Bisan City — was built by the Islamist Hamas government in 2008 as a tourist village to give Gazans some relief from the hardships of life in the Strip caused by the strict Israeli siege imposed on it.
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The animals were all smuggled through tunnels that connected Egypt to Gaza, before the passages were shut last year with the ouster of freely elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
Concerns have previously been raised about the welfare of animals at the zoo, especially given Gaza’s limited resources.
Last year two lion cubs died at the zoo shortly after birth due to a lack of experienced vets, food and medicine.