Cape Town - In a case starkly reminiscent of the Lawrence Anthony's Babylon's Ark, when the Baghad Zoo was caught in the cross fire of the Iraq war - South African based organization Four Paws is set to help in an emergency rescue of the animals in the Gaza Strip.
The group of foreign vets have taken measures on Tuesday to evacuate the last surviving animals from the Khan Yunis zoo, dubbed "the world's worst" since it became public last year that the zoo was "crudely mummifying the animals that died in their care and displaying them".
Hamas, which runs Gaza, has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, the most recent in 2014 in which 2 251 Palestinians died, the majority civilians, according to the United Nations - claiming the lives of 73 Israelis, including 67 soldiers. The Israeli blockade of the enclave and Egypt's closed border have suffocated the economy, with Gazans no finding it more and more difficult to find money for leisure.
This their seventh and final visit to the zoo saw them carefully sedating animals for medical examinations, before they will be taken out of the strip. Four Paws reports on its website that a deer that had been injured was had unfortunately died from its injuries.
Local vets had tried their best to treat the animal immediately, but they unfortunately did not have the necessary expertise and medicine to provide the proper care for the already severely weakened deer, which was kept in a desolate cage under very bad keeping conditions.
”This tragic incident shows how urgent the emergency situation at Khan Younis really is”, says Four Paws vet and mission leader Dr Khalil. “The supply situation and infrastructure are in such a bad state that the animals’ lives are at high risk. We need to get them urgently out of here.”
Arrangements are being made to accommodate most of the animals, such as the tortoises, the pelican and the emu, in Jordan’s ‘New Hope Centre’ for rescued animals. The centre is part of the organisation Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife, which is run jointly by Four Paws and the Princess Alia Foundation - Click here to get involved
However, as the facility currently has no enclosure for a big cat, tiger Laziz has a somewhat longer journey ahead. For him, accommodations were made at FOUR PAWS’ Big Cat Sanctuary Lions Rock, located in Bethlehem in the Free State.
The animals will undergo a series of ultrasound scans and vaccinations before crossing the Erez checkpoint into Israel on Wednesday morning.
In line with the work of Four Paws, South Africa has been instrumental in offering a safe haven for wild animals in captivity. Most recently, Operation Spirit of Freedom rescue 33 lions and allow them to live a better life in SA.
Rescued by British charity Animal Defenders International (ADI) from South American circuses, the 33 lions were expected to live out their days free and happy at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Limpopo - but two of the lionesses, of the Colombian pride, have died after succumbing to a naturally occurring toxin. Emoya was opened by Savannah Heuser in 2012 and it has no breeding policy, nor is it open to the public.
WATCH the moment the lions were offloaded at OR Tambo and transported to Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary here: #33Lions Arrive In SA At OR Tambo International Airport