ACTION ALERT: Animals in Gaza’s South Jungle Zoo Are Dying of Starvation

February 26th, 2016 - by admin

Fares Akram / Associated Press & Petition Campaign / & Alsiasi – 2016-02-26 00:49:45

Animals at Gaza’s Zoos Dying of Hunger, Diseases
Fares Akram / Associated Press

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (January 22, 2016) — The African tiger at the zoo in southern Gaza Strip was emaciated, its belly shrunken and its striped coat hanging loose. It strode nervously up and down its cage.

“I swear to God the tiger has not eaten for four or five days,” said Mohammed Ouida, the owner of South Jungle Zoo. “It needs 100 shekels (about $20) of food a day.”

Once bustling with families bringing their children to see lions, monkeys, crocodiles and ostriches, the zoo is mostly empty now, and Ouida can’t generate enough cash to feed his animals.

The same story is playing out across Gaza’s six makeshift zoos. Years of conflict, cold winters, longstanding negligence and outbreaks of disease have killed many animals in captivity.

Even in better times, there has often been little awareness of animal welfare in Gaza. In 2013, for instance, two lion cubs died shortly after birth because zoo workers in northern Gaza did not know how to care for them.

In another renowned scene captured on film, Gazans used a crane to lift a camel over the border fence from Egypt into Gaza as the animal twitched in the air in agony. South Jungle has even turned to taxidermy to keep its deceased animals on exhibit.

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

The loss of one of Gaza’s few allies, former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted by the military in 2013 after protests against his rule, and a 2014 war with Israel have hit the territory especially hard. Unemployment is estimated by World Bank to stand at 43 per cent, and Gazans suffer shortages of many goods, including electricity and cooking gas.

Over the past two years, Egypt has also shut its borders with Gaza, preventing Gazans from leaving the territory, and blocked smuggling tunnels. The closure has not only stopped new animals from arriving, but also deprived Hamas of major smuggling tax revenues. Cash-strapped Hamas has struggled to pay the salaries of its 40,000 employees.

“People have a hard time finding food, much less the animals,” lamented Ouida, noting that half of the remaining 20 or so animals and birds in his zoo are ill because he also can’t afford a veterinarian. Vets used to check his animals every two months.

Since the zoo opened in 2007, Ouida and his brothers have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into their business. They once employed 30 workers, and ran a cafeteria serving families and school trippers. These days, Ouida works at a gravel quarry and his two brothers drive a taxi. Only two of them still show up at South Jungle.

The zoo’s problems began during a 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in 2014. The zoo was not directly hit, but neither Ouida nor his brothers could reach the site to feed the animals. The African tiger’s mate starved to death.

Of the six ostriches, only one is still alive. The lions and the only llama died in December. There are no more crocodiles. The dead animals are primitively stuffed and stacked in a corner of the zoo.

Most of Gaza’s zoos are private business ventures, set up by owners who lack experience in caring for animals in captivity.

“Basically, it’s improvisation by some citizens,” said Zakaria al-Kafarna, veterinary official at the Hamas Agriculture Ministry, which only provides immunizations for livestock, not wild animals.

The effect of conflict and years of negligence is also evident at Al-Bisan Zoo, built by Hamas in northern Gaza. It was badly damaged during the 2014 war, when more than 80 animals and birds died.

A wildcat, two monkeys and a falcon fell sick and died in December. The animals looked hungry and neglected, and were shivering from cold during a recent visit.

The zoo opened in 2007 as part of a Hamas built complex that also had swimming pools, soccer pitches and gardens. The complex was destroyed in fighting with Israel. No one visits anymore, and Hamas provides little money to care for the animals.

“Nobody is paying attention (to the zoo) because of the blockade and the situation. They don’t take care of the animals at all,” said Mohammed Abu Safia, of the zoo’s administration.

In 2014, an animal welfare organization evacuated three scrawny lions from Al-Bisan to Jordan. Last summer, the same charity, Four Paws International, helped send two lion cubs to a safe sanctuary in Jordan after Ouida, the South Jungle Zoo owner, sold them.

Ouida says he would be “thankful” for any outside help. “I’m waiting for someone to buy the zoo or for the animals to die,” he said.

ACTION ALERT: The Animals in Gaza’s South Jungle Zoo Are Starving to Death
Petition Campaign /

(February 25, 2016) — Their struggle started in 2014, during the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas. No one could get to the animals to feed them. Some, including a beautiful Bengal Tiger, died waiting for food. Now, conditions for the creatures that have survived the fighting are dire.

The region’s people are having a hard time finding food, let alone the animals. The zoo is not bringing in revenue anymore, as almost no one visits since the fighting began. Staff have taken to stuffing the animals that die and putting them back on display, to maintain the facade of a lively zoo.

These animals are innocent, and should not be victims of the war. An agency called Four Paws is currently working to try and secure the release of these animals. Please join and ask the South Jungle Zoo to consider working with Four Paws to secure the release of the surviving animals to qualified aid organizations, sanctuaries or zoos in more stable regions.

Many of these animals are already endangered, and to drag them through such suffering is senseless. Of the six ostriches, only one is still alive. The lions and the only llama died in December. There are no more crocodiles. One tiger remains, and the owner was recently quoted saying it had not eaten in four or five days.

Half of the remaining 20 or so animals and birds in the zoo are ill due to lack of veterinary care. We must act now to save them.

Let’s implore the South Jungle Zoo’s owner to release all of his surviving animals to qualified organizations and sanctuaries that can nurse them back to health. It is their only hope.

To: South Jungle Zoo
Demand: Rescue Starving Gaza Zoo Animals

Besieged Gaza Zoo Stuffing Dead Animals for Show

GAZA — Years of conflict and negligence have left most of the animals in the destitute Gaza Zoo dead or in poor health, Internet publication US News reported Saturday. The zoo, which was once a humming venue of school trips and family day visits, is now experiencing hard times due to conflict in the region.

“I swear to God the tiger has not eaten for four or five days,” said Mohammed Ouida, the owner of South Jungle Zoo. “It needs 100 shekels (about $20) of food a day.”

Since December, a wildcat, two monkeys and a falcon have perished as a result of poor conditions. Additionally, the zoo was forced to surrender lion cubs to Jordan after concern that the zoo’s management could not adequately care for them.

The animals that have not died off due to disease or starvation have struggled to survive in cramped enclosures riddled with bullet-holes that barely afford animals enough room to turn around, according to Vice News.

The owner has even resorted to a primitive taxidermy technique in order to maintain the facade of the zoo, a craft he learned by “reading the internet,” Vice News added.

Even prior to the worsening foreign relations with former ally Egypt and the enduring conflict with Israel, there was little attention paid to animal welfare in Gaza. The zoo staff is improperly trained to care for exotic animals and Hamas has imposed a three-shekel cap on the entrance fee, Vice News noted.

Ouida, wearied by the bleak conditions in Gaza, said he would appreciate aid. “I’m waiting for someone to buy the zoo or for the animals to die,” he remarked.

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