Lions, monkeys and other animals at Rafah Zoo in the southern Gaza Strip are dying of hunger. Four monkeys have already died from starvation, the zoo owner said. A fifth monkey is also very sick and cannot eat on his own.
A parrot screams every day for food, and lions have lost half their weight. “There is a shortage of food, water, and medicine. For the lions, we try to offer them a meal per week, sometimes we cannot,” Ahmed Gomaa, the owner of Rafah Zoo, told news agency Reuters. “We feed them dry bread soaked in water, just to keep them alive. The situation is tragic.”
“We have a dying monkey due to lack of food. You saw how he was being fed by hand because he could not eat on his own. These scenes are painful and difficult to see. It’s painful for both humans and animals,” Adel Gomaa, who was displaced from northern Gaza and now lives in the zoo with his family, said.
“It is difficult to have food for animals because there is a priority to make food available for the people,” he added.
Rafah Zoo closed in 2019
In April 2019, the animal welfare organization Four Paws rescued 47 animals from Rafah Zoo in Gaza. The conditions in the zoo were so bad for animals that Four Paws advocated for closing it. The zoo agreed.
The animal welfare organization transferred lions, monkeys, wolves, porcupines, foxes, cats, dogs, emus ostriches, squirrels and a hyena to animal sanctuaries in Jordan and other countries.
But in September of the same year, the zoo opened its doors again with two lions and three new cubs cramped in small cages. These animals are now also starving as they only get a single weekly meal of bread soaked in water.
The cubs might die if the situation worsens, veterinarian Sofian Abdeen said. “The zoo over there, its owner cannot manage. I used to help him a lot with food, which was dead chickens from nearby farms; now, we also ran out of this. In a very short period of time, he will be in a very difficult condition.”
“His (the zoo owner’s) main problem is with the big animals like the lion. He has a lioness who just gave birth, and she needs food constantly to keep the cubs. In a previous war, he faced the same problem, and all of them died (the cubs) because there was no food available for the mother, so there was no milk,” Abdeen said.
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