Gaza’s last tiger leaves ‘the world’s worst zoo’

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — The closing tiger in Gaza departed the coastal enclave at sunrise on Wednesday, visiting in a wood crate, cooled via chunks of ice placed on top of his brief transport.

 

He was given a sedative by way of his new keepers to assist him to cope with the long, abnormal journey to return.

The Bengal tiger turned into rescued from a painfully small cage right here within the now-shuttered leisure park dubbed with the aid of animal rights advocates “the worst zoo in the world.”

The reality is told, there are probably worse. It’s far a large international and there are numerous depressing zoos.

However, the Khan Younis facility was unique. Its owner displayed the mummified corpses of animals that had died at his zoo of strain, ailment, and hunger.

The closing tiger in Gaza renamed Laziz, which means “scrumptious” in Arabic, surpassed from the Gaza Strip into Israel at the Erez crossing early Wednesday. He was scheduled to go to Hebrew College’s Koret veterinary medical institution and then keep on to Ben Gurion Airport to make El Al’s evening Flight seventy-one to Johannesburg.

Aziz was travelling with 14 fellow survivors of the Khan Younis zoo. Those were the fortunate ones — out of 220 inhabitants at the zoo at some point of its peak.

In crates beside the tiger turned into a bit dark: Two porcupines, which closing week escaped but have been recaptured. Two long-legged buzzards. A pelican that had lived in a waterless international in his aviary. Two tortoises that slightly had room enough to turn around in their enclosure.

There has been a mother deer, too. She had lost her fawn, which died of wounds sustained suffering to break out her cage some weeks ago. And an emu, which subsequently went into his shipping crate after putting up a fight.

 

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Then there had been the monkeys — Two macaques and 3 vervets. The monkeys needed to be sedated before they could be examined and placed in their dog-kennel-fashion visiting crates.

It isn’t always easy to hit an irritated monkey in its cage with a syringed dart fired from a blowgun as a dozen journalists with cameras watch.

Not easy at all.

Two of the monkeys were discovered to be pregnant.

The final to be loaded on the truck Tuesday night time became the tiger. He weighs more than four hundred kilos, plus his crate. Robust guys could slightly raise him. in the end, a local with a motorbike connected to a trailer arrived to assist.

Because the animals have been being subdued and put into their crates, the local Palestinians on the zoo joked that they could be glad to trade places to get out of Gaza, which suffers from a partial alternate and journey blockade, enforced by means of Israel and Egypt

One guy said the Palestinians should strip off their clothes and faux to be Tarzan so they could go with their animal buddies.

There are almost 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza. There may be no airport, no seaport and simplest confined access to the out of doors global. Israel mostly lets in only traders, the ill and aged to go into Israel — on restrained allows. Egypt’s crossing at Rafah has been closed extra than it has been open inside the past 3 years.

before departing Wednesday morning, the animals and their new caregivers, from the global animal charity and rescue organization known as 4 Paws, spent the night inside the car parking zone of the Marna Residence Motel in Gaza Town.

Passers-by peered into the truck and attempted to capture photos on their smartphones.

The tiger has lived an impossible existence.

The zoo’s owner and patriarch, Ziad Award, stated he bought Two tiger cubs from black-marketplace investors presenting animals for an Egyptian zoo. The cubs, Awaida said in an interview, were smuggled into Egypt from Senegal. For the flight and to pass Egyptian customs, they had been disguised as regular House cats.

“They painted them black to cool the stripes,” Award stated. He admits this is a great detail. “this is what I was advised.”

Wherein the tigers were born, Award stated, he does Now not know. Whilst he offered them in Egypt in 2007, they have been still nursing on milk.

The tigers had been smuggled into Gaza through the tunnels from Rafah. This could sound brilliant, till you study that humans have used the tunnels to smuggle Mercedes-Benz sedans, orders of Kentucky Fried Bird and Grad rockets from Iran.

The tigers grew up of their cage in Khan Younis and had been the zoo’s maximum popular appeal. Tickets to enter the park price 50 cents for children, nearly a buck for adults.

The pair survived wars in 2008 and 2012 among Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant employer that controls the Gaza Strip. inside the aftermath of the 1/3 and maximum luxurious battle, within the summer time of 2014, the female tiger died — alongside extra than 2,a hundred Palestinians and seventy-two Israelis.

Awaida stated he could not reach the zoo for 17 days because of the shelling and airstrikes from Israel, and rocket and mortar assaults by means of Hamas. Many animals died at some point of the conflict and in a while.

The zoo owner used formaldehyde and sawdust to mummify the lifeless. In addition to the tiger, site visitors could study desiccated carcasses of a baboon, a lion and a crocodile, and the scattered skeletons of other animals.

The zookeeper’s morbid show was both an economic and political decision. He had offered the animals, and those would pay to peer them, useless or alive; he also wanted to expose Palestinians what the Gaza wars and Israeli siege had wrought.

What will take place to the animals now? The zoo is closed. Four Paws is transporting the birds, deer, and porcupines to animal reserves in Jordan. The 5 monkeys will live out their days at a primate sanctuary in Israel.

The tiger is headed to Lions­rock, a large-cap keep in South Africa, Wherein he could be loose to roam a big natural enclosure. He is 8 or 9 years antique. Tigers inside the wild stay around 17 years, but those in captivity can live to tell the tale longer, so perhaps the story ends well for him.

“He can have an amazing existence in Africa,” promised Amir Khalil, a veterinarian for Four Paws.

The tale of the tiger rescue changed into Now not top news in Gaza. The media on the zoo have been usually from the global press and news services.

On Facebook, locals commenting on pictures of the scene were primarily unmoved.

Akram Radi wrote in his post, “Hiya, they dealt with the animals and freed them from the zoo? Now who is going to free the humans from the sector’s largest zoo, Gaza?”