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Cry for help from Gaza: FOUR PAWS takes care of animals from bombed-out zoo


Update, 02-17-2015: The three lions from Gaza are feeling at home in Jordan


The three lions FOUR PAWS rescued from Al-Bisan zoo in Gaza are enjoying their new lives at the New Hope Center near Amman to the fullest. They have already been vaccinated and the two male lions will soon be vasectomised. As soon as they no longer require  close monitoring,  the three lions will be moved from their adaption enclosure to a larger enclosure, which will become their temporary home for the meantime. However, FOUR PAWS together with the Princess Alia Foundation (PAF) is creating a new wildlife sanctuary in Jordan. This will not only be home to the three lions rescued from Gaza, but for many more wild animals rescued from bad keeping conditions and illegal trade.

Al Ma’wa for Nature & Wildlife: A new home for our lions


FOUR PAWS is currently setting up a new animal sanctuary called ’Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife’, covering  over 140 hectares approximately. During the first construction phase, several 40 hectare enclosures will become home to rescued animals waiting in the transit station near Amman. The three lions from Gaza will be among them. 


’Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife’ is located in a natural forest in the northern part of Jordan, approximately 40 km away from the capital Amman. As soon as the sanctuary is finished, it will offer 12 species-appropriate enclosures for rescued wild animals.

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Update, 2014-10-01 - Lions from Gaza have been released into their new home in Jordan


The three lions from Gaza have been successfully released into their temporary compound in Jordan. At the moment FOUR PAWS is settling up a new animal shelter, the “Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife”, which will be future home to rescued wild animals from all over the world. As soon as their new huge enclosures are ready, the lions will move into their permanent home, where they can live a species-appropriate life.

© VIER PFOTEN | Birgit Leber

FOUR PAWS is also helping the remaining animals in Gaza zoo

A solution will also be found for the remaining 30 or so animals, including a macaque, vervet monkeys, wild cates, wolves, ostriches, pelicans, birds of prey, porcupines and a crocodile. FOUR PAWS veterinary and leader of the rescue mission in Gaza, Dr. Amir Khalil explains:  “We can see how much the people in Gaza love their zoo and its animals. So FOUR PAWS is pledging its expertise and financial support for the correct reconstruction of the enclosures. We also want to train the local team in how to deal with the animals.”


More support is also received by the French animal welfare organisation 30 millions d'amis.

Update, 2014-09-30 - FOUR PAWS togehter with the lions on the way to Jordan 


Our team has prepared the lions of Gaza zoo for departure into their new life in Jordan this morning! All three of them are sleeping safe and sound in their cages! FOUR PAWS veterinary Dr. Amir Khalil will continuously check on them! 


We'll keep you updated about their further journey to Jordan!

© VIER PFOTEN | Birgit Leber

Update, 2014-09-29 - FOUR PAWS rescues lions from Gaza zoo 


The FOUR PAWS team with support of the French NGO 30 Millions d'Amis has finally managed to reach the heavily damaged Al-Bisan zoo in Beit Lahiya in the north of the Gaza strip. In the next few hours the transport of the three lions will be arranged. If everything goes ahead according to plan, we will be able to transfer the traumatized lions to their new species-appropriate home in Jordan tomorrow morning! There, the lions can finally start to recover from the experiences they have had in the last couple of months and the pregnant lioness will hopefully give life to healthy lion cubs soon.

© VIER PFOTEN | Mihai Vasile

Update, 2014-09-17 - Emergency operations, medical supplies, food and water for animals in a zoo in Gaza


FOUR PAWS has supplied food, water and urgent medicines for the few surviving animals in severely damaged Al-Bisan Zoo in northern Gaza. Some animals underwent operations on the spot.

Zoo in Gaza severly damaged by air strikes

As team leader and vet Dr. Amir Khalil arrived in Al-Bisan Zoo in Beit Lahia/Gaza, the scene that greeted him was devastating: enclosures destroyed, injured and shell-shocked animals that had gone for days without food or water and many animal carcasses that nobody had yet been able to deal with.

More than 80 animals died when a zoo in northern Gaza was severely damaged by air strikes.
© VIER PFOTEN | Mihai Vasile

Wounded animals provided with medicine and food

 “Together with local helpers, we got going straight away”, says Khalil. The FOUR PAWS emergency team provided the animals not only with food and water, but also with vaccinations and emergency operations. The remaining enclosures were cleaned and disinfected. The FOUR PAWS team also restored the damaged water supply, organised generators and technical equipment, and carried out makeshift repairs on many of the enclosures.

Many animals have to be operated on spot due to their severe injuries.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Disastrous conditions for animals in Gaza zoo

The situation in the zoo is disastrous for the animals. Most of the animals, including for example the three lions, had not been vaccinated or wormed. On top of this, the lioness is pregnant. There have been no veterinary examinations of the animals for years here. The zoo director himself asked FOUR PAWS for help, as the zoo management could no longer care for the surviving animals after the air strikes.

FOUR PAWS tries to rescue animals from Gaza zoo

Khalil concludes: “Over the next few weeks we will do our best to find a new, safe home for the animals. For the moment, it is uncertain if the zoo can ever become operational again.” In cooperation with the local helpers, the food supply can now be ensured for all the zoo’s animals, for the next two months.

Update, 2014-09-14 - FOUR PAWS tries to save animals from bombed-out zoo in Gaza 


The week-long conflict in the Gaza Strip has resulted in thousands of dead and injured. Since the newest outbreak in early July, countless buildings and facilities have been bombarded, affecting not only people, but also animals. More than 80 animals died when a zoo in northern Gaza was severely damaged by air strikes. The twenty surviving animals are finally receiving help: A FOUR PAWS emergency team, headed by Dr. Amir Khalil and local supporters, has managed to deliver urgently needed medicine and food to the remains of the zoo. The team is also restoring the water supply by repairing the pipes.

The Lions are hungry, ill and very weak.
© VIER PFOTEN | Mihai Vasile

As FOUR PAWS is well connected in the region, zoo manager Shady Hamad had officially asked the international animal welfare organisation for help, because the remaining zoo animals had been left without food or water.


Most of the enclosures have been severely damaged. There are several dead animals lying around the enclosures. The few surviving animals, among them three lions, are traumatised, ill and very weak.


The emergency team, equipped with antibiotics, disinfectants and de-worming medication, is now carrying out medical treatment on-site. First food deliveries from Gaza have also been organised as well as fridges, which arrived yesterday. As a next step, FOUR PAWS will attempt to find a solution for the remaining surviving animals. As the lions enclosure was also damaged, we will now undertake first security measures.

The emergency team, equipped with antibiotics, disinfectants and de-worming medication, is now carrying out medical treatment on-site.
© VIER PFOTEN | Mihai Vasile

The Sinai Peninsula as well as the border area between Egypt and Israel are frequently subject to terrorist attacks. The FOUR PAWS Team planned the operation from Cairo, working with the Egyptian authorities and local NGOs. The team’s safety was our top priority. We were finally able to reach the Gaza strip accompanied by a military convoy.


It is still unclear if the zoo will be able to carry on. We will now assess, whether the lions can be transferred to a safe place outside Gaza. This is likely to be decided in the next few days

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