After 50 days of conflict in Gaza that ended with over 2,000 people killed and thousands more injured, the animals at the zoo were also victims.
The animals at Al-Bisan zoo were caught in the crossfire, leaving the surviving ones traumatised, starved and forced to live in filthy horrible conditions, some in the same cages as their dead friends.
Zookeeper Wasef Hamad, who was able to visit the zoo during a 72-hour cease fire, said: “More than half of the animals were killed, most of them by shrapnel, and I think some birds died of thirst.”
Up to ten monkeys, two ostriches, a deer, a llama, two storks, some porcupines, a peacock, a gazelle, a fox, a lion and eight eagles were killed.
The surviving animals were left shell-shocked. “A crocodile, famous for having escaped from the zoo in 2012, remained docile as a duck drank water from his pool,” reported Al Jazeera.
The animals weren’t fed for days on end due to lack of food and funds. Some of them were able to survive thanks to the bravery of some neighbours who brought them buckets of water whenever they could.
The surviving animals were also starting to get sick due to malnutrition and the living conditions they had to endure.
Several animal charities started focusing on the zoo animals once the cease fire came into place, including international animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS.
According to FOUR PAWS, more than 80 animals were killed and only 20 remained ‘traumatised, ill and very weak’. An emergency team accompanied by a military convoy was able to bring urgent medical treatment and food to the survivors after weeks of planning from Cairo, together with Egyptian authorities and local NGOs.
“The emergency team, equipped with antibiotics, disinfectants and de-worming medication, is now carrying out medical treatment on-site. Food deliveries from Gaza have also been organised as well as fridges, which arrived yesterday. The team is also restoring the water supply by repairing the pipes,” FOUR PAWS stated.
“As a next step, FOUR PAWS will attempt to find a solution for the remaining surviving animals. As the lions enclosure was also damaged, we will focus on making the enclosure secure and undertake security measures.”
To help FOUR PAWS work in Gaza, please consider making a donation here.