Nama Zoo in Gaza struggles to keep doors open

Nama Zoo in Gaza struggles to keep doors open
A lion in cage at Nama Zoo, Gaza June 1, 2023, credit: Reuters/Mohammed Salem

The Nama Zoo in Gaza struggles to keep its doors open as the number of animals they have slowly declined due to a lack of funding and resources. They would like more animals, but Gaza lacks the medical facilities and sometimes food to treat and feed animals like lions and tigers. 

“Sometimes, we get frozen meat, sometimes chicken, we try to diversify. Sometimes we are forced – for example, if an injured donkey in Gaza has a broken foot – it is slaughtered properly and distributed to the lions. Providing food for the lions is tiring,” Mahmoud Al-Sultan, the medical supervisor at Nama Zoo, told news agency Reuters. 

Currently, the zoo has four pairs of lions, crocodiles, hyenas, foxes, deer and monkeys, a lone ibex and a solitary wolf.

In 2019, animal welfare group Four Paws had to rescue animals from another zoo in Gaza and find them new homes in Israel, Jordan or as far away as South Africa.

“Many of the animal zoos in the Gaza Strip were shut down as a result of the circumstances – while the rest are struggling to stay open, all due to difficult economic conditions and little income, meaning the inability of the zoo workers to provide food for the animals, and veterinary services that are required continuously,” Adham Al-Basyouni, spokesperson for the ministry of agriculture said.

“In Gaza, not only humans are under the blockade, but animals too. The lack of access to international medicines is the biggest blockade and the biggest harm to animals,” Al-Sultan said.

He added that when an animal dies at the zoo, the animal can’t be replaced because “most of the animals that entered the Gaza Strip in general and the Nama Zoo specifically were smuggled through the tunnel in the past period.”

“Today, it is very difficult to bring in any new animal to the garden due to the lack of resources and the high prices. Even if there is an opportunity or possibility for that, it will be difficult,” he said.

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