A lioness who had her claws removed so ‘tourists could play with her’ has been rescued from a zoo, along with every other animal in there.
Rafah Zoo, in Gaza, was evacuated over the weekend as an animal welfare group made it their mission to get all the animals to safety.
The zoo made headlines earlier this year when distressing footage of a young lioness getting declawed went viral, with welfare groups calling for the zoo to get shut down.
#SaveGazaAnimals: The rescue has started!
The last hours were probably the most nerve wrecking hours of our lives! Thanks to the hard work of our team and the full support of the authorities, we are able to start the loading of the first animals in their transport crates. pic.twitter.com/A1n40Yt1pH
— FOUR PAWS (@fourpawsint) April 7, 2019
More than 40 animals have now been moved out of the so-called ‘Zoo of Sorrows,’ in which animals were living in ‘terrible conditions’ and cages which were too small for them.
Four Paws, an international animal welfare organisation, made the decision to rescue the animals yesterday (April 7), taking lions, monkeys, peacocks, and wolves away from the enclosure.
The 47 animals were sedated for the 300km journey to a reserve in Jordan, with authorities in Israel giving their permission for the transfer, the BBC reports.
The organisation admitted they were ‘unsure’ of how the rescue would go due to the unstable situation in the region and last week’s setback of borders being closed. However, just one day later they took to social media to announce their mission had been successful.
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✖♦#SaveGazaAnimals♦✖ YES! The cages are empty! We have achieved the impossible and managed to get the 47 animals out of Rafah zoo. Now we are ready for the trip to their new home. Thanks to everyone who supported this mission.💛 Without you this would have not be possible! Make sure the animals are able to recover from their horrible past and donate here ➡️ http://bit.ly/support-gaza-animals [LINK IN BIO] . 📸 FOUR PAWS | Bogdan Baraghin . . . #FOURPAWS #VIERPFOTEN #Gaza #happiness #teamwork #wildanimals #rescue #mission #heroes #wedidit #animalrights #animalwelfare
Four Paws had been campaigning to get the zoo shut down for months, ever since the horrifying footage of the lioness being brutally declawed went viral.
The lioness had to suffer unimaginable pain as her claws were removed with a pair of shears – all so visitors of the zoo could ‘play’ with her.
In a statement by Four Paws, the organisation condemned the ‘persisting poor conditions’ of the zoo, saying:
This exposed the persisting poor conditions the animals at Gaza’s Rafah Zoo have to endure. There is no means for proper nutrition, medical care, or shelter, leaving animals neglected and exposed to further brutality and uncertainty.
WARNING: This video contains content some viewers may find disturbing:
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⚠SHOCKING footage revealed: young lioness brutally mutilated ❗ The owner of the oldest zoo in Gaza allows visitors to play with this lioness and therefore cruelly removed her claws with garden shears! Sadly, this is not the only animal suffering in the Rafah Zoo; just a couple of weeks ago 4 newborn lion cubs died due to the unusually cold weather and lack of proper care. We strongly demand the closure of the zoo, where over 40 more animals are kept in horrible conditions. Our team already started negotiations with the relevant authorities. They urgently need our help! 🆘 We’ll keep you updated about this case! #SaveGazaAnimals . . . #FOURPAWS #VIERPFOTEN #animals #animal #animalwelfare #bigcats #lions #lion #cruel #animalcruelty #cat #rescue #animalrescue #help #sos #animalsanctuary #thelionking #helpforlions #helpforanimals #animalwelfareorganisation #animalcontent #gaza #palestina #urgent #suffering #horrible #donate #savegazaanimals
The animal welfare group strongly condemned the zoo’s owner, Fathy Jomaa, for the treatment of the animals. However, Jomaa blamed the zoo’s squalid conditions on the Israeli and Egyptian blockades of Gaza and bad economic conditions.
He told Reuters, as per the BBC:
When we raise a cat for a week or a month we feel sad to lose it but what about suddenly losing animals that I have lived with for 20 years?
The team – with full cooperation from the authorities – loaded the 47 animals into crates in just one day, successfully rescuing them from the poor conditions.
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✖♦️#SaveGazaAnimals♦️✖Behind the scenes, part I Over the weekend our team in Gaza faced an almost impossible challenge: the unprecedented rescue of more than 40 animals from Rafah zoo. The next step is to enable a brighter future for these poor animals. For such a mission, preparation is key. The following video shows the amount of work that goes into such a difficult endeavor. The animals are safe, but our work is not yet done. Donate here ➡ http://bit.ly/help-gaza-animals [LINK IN BIO ] . . . #FOURPAWS #VIERPFOTEN #Gaza #happiness #teamwork #wildanimals #rescue #mission #heroes #wedidit #animalrights #animalwelfare
Hopefully the animals will live in safe and happy environments from now on, and will be able to make a full recovery.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).