Animals find haven in Jordan - GulfToday

Animals find haven in Jordan

Jordan animal

Dozens of animals have been rescued from regional war zones.

For more than a year after being moved to a Jordanian wildlife reserve from war-hit Syria, two bears, Loz and Sukkar, would cower whenever planes flew by, traumatised by past bombardments.

They are among dozens of animals that have been rescued from regional war zones, including the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, and brought to Jordan's Al Ma'wa For Nature and Wildlife.

The sanctuary located in Jerash province north of Amman was set up by the Princess Alia Foundation, named after the king's sister, in cooperation with the international animal welfare organisation Four Paws.

Sukkar (sugar in Arabic) and Loz (almond) are Asian black bears, now aged nine, who were trapped by war in the Magic World Zoo outside Syria's second city, Aleppo, before being rescued in the summer of 2017.

Most were rescued from Syria, where the conflict has raged since 2011, as well as the conflict-riddled Gaza Strip where Israel has fought three wars since 2008 with the territory's Islamist rulers, Hamas.

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A black bear walks around an enclosure, at the sanctuary in Jerash. Khalil Mazraawi/AFP

"They are usually emaciated, their teeth are in bad condition and... also suffer from psychological trauma," he told AFP.

Aromatherapy

Before they reach the sanctuary, the animals are taken to the New Hope Centre, a veterinary clinic linked to the Jerash reserve, where they are provided with medical care and undergo rehabilitation.

He said proper food and medical care is "extremely vital" for their well-being, but the animals must also be able to trust their carers and regain self-confidence.

"They are happier and love to play and meet visitors," said Ayasra.

Bears eat 16 kilos (35 pounds) worth of fruit and vegetables daily, while the lions are given seven to 15 kilos of meat three times a week.

Sultan, the lion, and Sabreen, a lioness, are among the animals who found a new lease on life at the Ma'wa, after their rescue by Four Paws in 2014 from a Gaza zoo following Israeli bombardment.

Natural habitat

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Lionesses rest in an enclosure, at the sanctuary in Jerash. Khalil Mazraawi/AFP

Al Ma'wa CEO Marek Trela, a Polish veterinary surgeon, said the sanctuary aims to "give a better life to animals who have suffered in different ways".

"If they like to see people they can... if they don't want to they hide in the forest and they live their own life. That is what we are trying to give them after the hard time they had," said Trela.

Although it is not a zoo, visitors can tour the reserve and spend some time with the animals for an entrance fee of five dinars (around $7).

Over the past five years, Four Paws has rescued nearly 100 animals from Gaza, Syria and Iraq, including 43 who were brought out of the Palestinian territory in April.

Agence France-Presse