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.
— FOUR PAWS (@fourpawsint) August 25, 2016
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.
“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.