Gaza's Khan Younis Zoo Sees More Animals Starve To Death As Four Paws Delivers Urgent Supplies

10/02/2016 15:44 | Updated 11 February 2016

This article contains images some may find disturbing

Starvation and disease in a Gaza zoo has left its enclosures littered with the mummified corpses of tigers and lions.

Currently home to about 40 animals, the privately-run Khan Younis Zoo in South Gaza has seen virtually no visitors in the past year.

Gaza is experiencing an especially harsh winter with heavy rainfalls, which takes a lot out of the weakened and hungry animals, who have been left without food or medical attention amid the ongoing conflict in the territory.

It is estimated that last summer there were 40 big cats at the zoo. Now there are just 15.

As well as an emaciated tiger that was fed frozen chicken, if at all, for weeks, there are leopards, apes, foxes, porcupines, eagles and a range of other birds.

On Sunday, animal protection organisation, FOUR PAWS, was finally able to reach the zoo to deliver enough animal feed for the next four weeks. Urgently-needed medical supplies were also delivered.

In April last year, the charity's emergency team carried out a relief operation to provide medical treatment and food to the animals there at the time.

Dr Amir Khalil, who organised the feed distribution from Jordan, said that the situation had worsened since the charity's last mission.

With a land mass of just 45 km², Gaza is relatively small.

Entry and exit to the area is very strictly regulated, making the task of the animal welfare workers particularly challenging.

There are six zoos in Gaza. FOUR PAWS said that most exotic animals were once smuggled from Egypt to Gaza via underground tunnels.

Dr Khalil said: “The new feed supply was urgently needed, but it is still only a small drop in the ocean. FOUR PAWS will continue to work on a sustainable solution for all wild animals in Gaza. But for this reason, all affected authorities in Gaza and Israel as well as the owners of the animals need to cooperate.”

In the coming days, FOUR PAWS is planning to also supply much-needed food and medicine to another desperate zoo in Gaza, Rafah Zoo, which is also inhabited by four lions.

Dr Khalil added: “We would like to help all zoo animals, but we only have limited resources. We have already started an international call for donations and are urgently asking for support.”

In September 2014 FOUR PAWS carried out an emergency mission in the heavily-damaged Al-Bisan Zoo in the north of the Gaza Strip, and three lions were also transferred to New Hope Centre in Jordan.

In September 2015 FOUR PAWS finally transferred two lion cubs from a refugee camp. A father-of-six living in the camp had bought the cubs from Rafah Zoo as “pets”.


  • Mummified tigers and other big cats were found in the enclosures of The Khan Younis Zoo, in Gaza.
  • The corpses of the animals were stacked on top of one another.
  • A tiger named Laziz was found "nervously running up and down in his desolate cage". For weeks, the emaciated tiger had only been fed on frozen chicken – if at all. He is the only surviving tiger at Khan Younis Zoo in South Gaza. Many animals, including Laziz’s partners, have died in recent weeks.
  • An animal welfare volunteer kneels down to comfort a puppy through the bars of the cage.
  • A macaque looks through the bars of his enclosure. Animals were left without food, water and medicine.
  • A variety of monkeys were found at the privately-owned zoo.
  • A monkey reaches through his cage bars for some corn, brought to the zoo by FOUR PAWS.
  • Together with local supporters, FOUR PAWS international animal welfare organisation was able to organise a large supply of animal feed, which was delivered on Sunday, February 7.
  • FOUR PAWS witnessed similar scenes during a visit to the zoo last April.
  • According to estimates, there were still 40 big cats in summer 2015. Now, it is said that there are only 15 left.
  • Mummified corpses of big cats were also found at the zoo last year.
  • Because of the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip entry and exit to the area is very strictly regulated,
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