Heroic ‘Cat Man of Aleppo’ Now Aims to Save a Whole Zoo

In October 2016, Care2 told you about a remarkable man named Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel. Alaa, an ambulance driver, is the hero who refused to leave war-torn Aleppo, Syria when nearly everyone else did. Instead, he stayed behind to run a makeshift cat sanctuary for stray animals and pets people had to abandon as they fled.

It’s time to update you on Alaa’s efforts. A lot has happened — and not all of it good. Yet Alaa remains steadfast in his commitment to help Aleppo’s animals.

First, the bad news. In November 2016, airstrikes in Aleppo essentially destroyed the cat sanctuary. Bombs and chlorine gas turned the building to rubble, and several cats and a dog named Hope died in the attack. In the immediate aftermath, nearly all of the remaining cats disappeared into the city.

Bombs also hit Alaa’s home. His family is safe, but two cats were killed, including one a little girl gave Alaa for safekeeping when her family left Aleppo several months ago. Alaa used to text photos of the cat to the girl to show her it was safe and well. Sadly, he won’t be doing that anymore.

With their home in ruins, Alaa’s family fled to Turkey. Alaa had to remain behind, but he immediately began formulating a plan to reopen the sanctuary at a new location.

By February 2017, Alaa had secured a place to open a new cat sanctuary. Now, in addition to all the cats he’s collected, Alaa even has a bunch of dogs and puppies to care for as well.

Watch this video from The Dodo that features Alaa rebuilding his cat sanctuary:

Here’s perhaps the most remarkable thing of all: The director of Aleppo’s Aalim al-Sahar Zoo approached Alaa this spring, asking if he could do anything for the handful of animals still behind bars there. Sadly, those animals are slowly starving in their cages.

Alaa agreed to help — how could he not?

But now Alaa is struggling to find enough resources to buy food for two emaciated tigers, two bears and several monkeys. He’s been able to provide some food using donations from his worldwide fan base, but he needs those funds to keep rolling in to provide food on a regular basis.

No one else is supporting these animals. Unfortunately, no rescue organization can enter Syria to get them out. Alaa plans to try to move the animals to Turkey, where he has a contact who can care for them.

Sadly, Easter weekend brought fresh tragedy. As reported by Alessandra Abidin on the “Il Gattaro D’Aleppo” Facebook page:

Friends, today near Idlib there was a huge massacre. Car bombs exploded, killing dozens. Alaa was there to accommodate the displaced and our cat ambulance was blown up in the air. It has been totally destroyed. Alaa is fine and not injured but he was just a few meters away. Alaa had sweets for children and food for the zoo’s tigers and dogs, and it was all burned. Of our beautiful Cat Ambulance only the keys remain!!

Despite the never-ending horrors of war and the constant threat to his own safety, Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel soldiers on. He is an amazing man. There’s nothing he won’t do to try to keep innocent animals from harm as the war rages around him in Aleppo. Alaa deserves all the attention and help he can get.

If you want to follow Alaa’s efforts — and perhaps find ways to assist him — ask to join the private Facebook group “Il Gattaro d’Aleppo.”

Some even believe Alaa deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. What do you think?

Photo credit: "Nobel Peace Prize for Alaa" Facebook page


Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Peggy B
Peggy B5 months ago

Petition signed.

Sandra V
Sandra Vito6 months ago


Peter H
Peter H8 months ago

Much deserved accolade, do not understand how warmongering world leaders ever can get peace prizes of any sort, Alaa risks his life for no reward. Very sad to hear of the bombings, reminds us how flawed we are as a species though paradoxically such crises brings out the best people too.

Melania P
Melania P8 months ago

The best you can do is donate; why spend money on stupid things? These are real problems, and this is a real hero. I am honored to support him! Thank you for posting, I shared too.

Telica R
Telica R8 months ago

Thank you kind sir

Angelika Kempter
Angelika K8 months ago

Thank you,signed bevor

joan silaco
joan silaco8 months ago

This is where s/n is urgently needed, of course not in turbulent times such as now, but it would have been much easier to try to save them all when the numbers are lower in animal lives. They even had a van to help!

Cally Smith
Cally Smith8 months ago

An unsung hero! ALaa, you are amazing, thank you x

Elizabeth Conlan
Elizabeth Conlan8 months ago

Another great hero.