Animal welfare group evacuates 40 animals from Gaza zoo
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Animal welfare group evacuates 40 animals from Gaza zoo

Lions, foxes, monkeys, and pelicans among animals rescued by ‘Four Paws’ group, to be resettled in Jordan and Africa

A sedated lioness is pictured in a cage at a zoo in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, during the evacuation by members of the international animal welfare charity "Four Paws" of animals from the Palestinian enclave to relocate to sanctuaries in Jordan, on April 7, 2019.( SAID KHATIB / AFP)
A sedated lioness is pictured in a cage at a zoo in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, during the evacuation by members of the international animal welfare charity "Four Paws" of animals from the Palestinian enclave to relocate to sanctuaries in Jordan, on April 7, 2019.( SAID KHATIB / AFP)

An international welfare group is evacuating dozens of animals languishing in a ramshackle Gaza zoo to sanctuaries abroad.

Vets and volunteers from Four Paws International loaded some 40 animals and birds Sunday and headed to the Israeli border in the northern Gaza Strip en route to resettlement in Jordan and Africa.

The rescued animals include lions, foxes, monkeys and pelicans.

It marks the fourth and largest Gaza rescue mission by the Vienna-based organization since Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the Palestinian enclave in 2007. Israeli officials have long held that the Jewish state’s limitations on movement aim to prevent Hamas and other terror groups from transferring weapons into Gaza.

In 2016, the last animals were evacuated from what had been dubbed at the time “the world’s worst” zoo in Khan Younis, also in southern Gaza.

Some animals have died of cold and hunger in makeshift zoos as keepers failed to provide adequate care.

The zoo made headlines in February this year when the cash-strapped owner revealed he had declawed one of the lions there, so that customers could pay to play with her.

Amir Khalil, a veterinarian with the international animal welfare charity “Four Paws” walks in front of cages containing animals at a zoo in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, during the evacuation by the organisation of animals from the Palestinian enclave to relocate to sanctuaries in Jordan, on April 7, 2019. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
Pelicans are pictured in a cage at a zoo in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, during the evacuation by members of the international animal welfare charity “Four Paws” of animals from the Palestinian enclave to relocate to sanctuaries in Jordan, on April 7, 2019. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
Amir Khalil, a veterinarian with the international animal welfare charity “Four Paws” checks on a sedated fox at a zoo in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, during the evacuation by the organisation of animals from the Palestinian enclave to relocate to sanctuaries in Jordan, on April 7, 2019. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
An undernourished lioness is pictured at a zoo in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, during the evacuation by members of the international animal welfare charity “Four Paws” of animals from the Palestinian enclave to relocate to sanctuaries in Jordan, on April 7, 2019. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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