47 Neglected Animals Saved From War-Torn Zoo in Gaza

Rescuers from Four Paws are celebrating what is their largest mission yet with the removal of 47 neglected animals from a war-torn zoo in Gaza.

The Rafah Zoo, which opened in 1999 in the southernmost part of Gaza, has since become known as the “Zoo of Sorrows” because of the tragic conditions animals there live in. Sadly for the zoo’s many residents, they’ve been kept in inappropriate enclosures, and have been lacking food and veterinary care, both of which have taken a serious toll on their psychological and physical health.

While the zoo has been on the radar for some time, it recently come under increasing fire after four lion cubs froze to death in January, and a young lioness later had her claws barbarically removed with garden shears so visitors could play with her. According to Four Paws, the zoo’s owner claimed to have amputated the leg of an injured fox with a circular saw himself, and announced more male lions would also be ruthlessly declawed so they could interact with visitors.

Tragically, many have died there as a result of conflict in the area and a lack of care.

Now, however, the suffering of the survivors has finally come to an end and they’re all starting new lives. Although the rescue mission was delayed due to escalating violence and border closures, 47 animals have been safely evacuated by rescuers.

“This mission was one of the most nerve wrecking for our team. After the team’s first attempt to rescue the animals was thwarted due to border closures and increased tensions in the region, we were all anxiously awaiting to see what would unfold during the second attempt. We are so thankful to our team and supporters,” said Robert Ware, Executive Director of Four Paws.

In all, five lions, a hyena, several monkeys, wolves, porcupines, foxes, cats, dogs, emus, ostriches and squirrels were taken on a 186-mile journey across the border to sanctuaries in Jordan, while two of the older lions are headed to LIONSROCK, Four Paws’ big cat sanctuary in South Africa.

Exhausted, but massively proud: within just a few hours, we moved all 47 animals saved from Rafah Zoo into their crates…

Posted by FOUR PAWS International on Monday, April 8, 2019

“The last few weeks have been very intense for our team and have brought our team to its limits. To examine and load almost 50 animals in just a few days was a huge challenge, but to save lives and provide better futures, it is all worth it,” said Dr. Amir Khalil, Four Paws’ veterinarian and Head of Mission.

Hopefully these animals will all thrive in their new homes, and their story will help raise awareness about the plight of captive animals in the region.

Photo credit: Getty Images


Julia R
Julia R2 days ago

Wonderful news! I just donated to Four Paws for their amazing rescue to get these animals to a place where their lives will finally be treated with kindness and respect and their daunting medical and psychological needs can be met! If it wasn't for all their efforts these animals would have slowly died a torturous death there. There existence was a nightmare there. Thank you Four Paws for all your efforts and making this possible. Please support Four Paws and the incredible work they are doing. Even a small donation adds up!

Anne H
Anne H3 days ago

Good job

Coo R
Coo R3 days ago

great news

Janis K
Janis K3 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

Kevin B
Kevin B4 days ago


Shirley Plowman
Shirley Plowman5 days ago


Angela K
Angela K5 days ago

I'm very happy about it !!!!

Michael Friedmann

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

Celine R
Celine Russo5 days ago

Such a feat!

Ruth G
Ruth G5 days ago

well done FOUR PAWS .I donated to this mission & its great to see these poor animals free of that hell hole! Why on earth would you have a zoo or the like in a country that is fighting a "war" !