Tiger rescued from ‘world’s worst’ zoo in Gaza arrives in South Africa
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Tiger rescued from ‘world’s worst’ zoo in Gaza arrives in South Africa

Leaving behind cramped cage, Laziz will be living in 10,000-square-meter enclosure; other animals rehoused in Jordan, Israel

  • Laziz, Gaza's last tiger from Khan Yunis zoo, known as the 'world's worst,' waits in a cage at the OR Tambo international airport in Johannesburg, on August 25, 2016, before being transported to the Big Cat Sanctuary Lionsrock in South Africa. (AFP PHOTO/MUJAHID SAFODIEN)
    Laziz, Gaza's last tiger from Khan Yunis zoo, known as the 'world's worst,' waits in a cage at the OR Tambo international airport in Johannesburg, on August 25, 2016, before being transported to the Big Cat Sanctuary Lionsrock in South Africa. (AFP PHOTO/MUJAHID SAFODIEN)
  • A porcupine sits inside an enclosure at the New Hope Center, an animal refuge near Amman, on August 25, 2016, after being evacuated from a zoo dubbed the 'world's worst' in the Gaza Strip. (AFP PHOTO/Khalil MAZRAAWI)
    A porcupine sits inside an enclosure at the New Hope Center, an animal refuge near Amman, on August 25, 2016, after being evacuated from a zoo dubbed the 'world's worst' in the Gaza Strip. (AFP PHOTO/Khalil MAZRAAWI)
  • A pelican sits inside its enclosure at the New Hope Center, an animal refuge near Amman, on August 25, 2016, after evacuation from a zoo dubbed the "world's worst" in the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
AFP PHOTO / Khalil MAZRAAWI
    A pelican sits inside its enclosure at the New Hope Center, an animal refuge near Amman, on August 25, 2016, after evacuation from a zoo dubbed the "world's worst" in the Palestinian Gaza Strip. AFP PHOTO / Khalil MAZRAAWI
  • A deer surveys its new temporary home at the New Hope Center refuge near Amman on August 25, 2016, after being rescued from a zoo in the Gaza Strip.  AFP PHOTO / Khalil MAZRAAWI
    A deer surveys its new temporary home at the New Hope Center refuge near Amman on August 25, 2016, after being rescued from a zoo in the Gaza Strip. AFP PHOTO / Khalil MAZRAAWI
  • A tortoise eats lettuce at the New Hope Center animal refuge near Amman, on August 25, 2016, upon arrival from Gaza. 
AFP PHOTO / Khalil MAZRAAWI
    A tortoise eats lettuce at the New Hope Center animal refuge near Amman, on August 25, 2016, upon arrival from Gaza. AFP PHOTO / Khalil MAZRAAWI
  • An Eagle peers out of its enclosure at the New Hope Center refuge near Amman after being evacuated from a zoo in Gaza, August 25, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Khalil MAZRAAWI
    An Eagle peers out of its enclosure at the New Hope Center refuge near Amman after being evacuated from a zoo in Gaza, August 25, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Khalil MAZRAAWI

A Bengal tiger rescued from what activists have called “the worst zoo in the world” arrived in South Africa for a new home Thursday, having been rescued from a small cage in Gaza where he lived alongside the stuffed corpse of another tiger.

The nine-year-old male, Laziz, arrived by plane. His handlers said he was in good condition and calm after traveling in a wooden crate.

The Four Paws charity launched a rescue effort at the Khan Younis zoo in Gaza when it discovered that the zoo was displaying the taxidermied corpses of animals that had died from stress, disease and starvation.

After the zoo asked for help, Four Paws on Wednesday removed 15 animals including five monkeys, a porcupine and an emu, taking them to their new homes via Israel.

Two giant tortoises, two eagles, two porcupines, a pelican, an emu and a doe arrived on Wednesday in Jordan. They will spend the initial period in quarantine at the New Hope animal sanctuary close to Amman before being transferred to a larger facility.

Monkeys from the Gaza zoo have been transferred to the Ben Shemen park in Israel.

Laziz the tiger was taken to the Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa. He will roam in a 10,000-square-meter enclosure where he will be able to enjoy swimming and climbing, said Amir Khalil, who led the Gaza mission for Four Paws.

Airport cargo workers and photographers catch a glimpse of tiger Laziz, rescued from a zoo in Gaza, upon its arrival at O.R Tambo international airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. AP Photo/Themba Hadebe
Airport cargo workers and photographers catch a glimpse of tiger Laziz, rescued from a zoo in Gaza, upon its arrival at O.R Tambo international airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. AP Photo/Themba Hadebe

“Laziz is in good condition apart from a scratch on one side of his face, which comes from the crate,” said Marina Strydom, a veterinarian at Lionsrock, said Thursday.

The facility already holds 90 big cats that have been rescued from around the world.

Conditions in Gaza, home to 1.8 million people, have steadily deteriorated since Hamas, an Islamic militant group, seized control of the territory in 2007 and prompted an Israeli and Egyptian blockade.

Years of conflict, cold winters, longstanding negligence and outbreaks of disease have killed many animals in captivity in Gaza.

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