Cramped Gaza zoo reopens, only months after closure - GulfToday

Cramped Gaza zoo reopens, only months after closure

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A Palestinian employee lifts three recently born cubs at a zoo in Rafah.

A lioness is beaten with sticks while her cubs are dragged away -- a Gazan zoo closed after a long campaign has reopened, with conditions seemingly as bad as ever.

The Rafah Zoo in the southern Gaza Strip was known for its emaciated animals, with the owners saying they struggled to find enough money to feed them.

In April, international animal rights charity Four Paws took all the animals to sanctuaries, receiving a pledge the zoo would close forever.

But last month it reopened with two lions and three new cubs, penned in cages only a few square metres in size.

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The Rafah Zoo in the southern Gaza Strip was known for its emaciated animals.

1,000 metres, not seven

When AFP visited the zoo recently, the badly stuffed corpse of a lion was displayed near the entrance.

An ostrich in a three-metre-square pen pecked endlessly at the cage's bars, while two monkeys sat chewing on litter.

At the far end the lion and lioness were kept in separate cages, each only a few square metres.

The owners were seeking to remove the cubs from their mother to play with visiting children.

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International animal rights charity Four Paws took all the animals to sanctuaries.

'Entertainment'

The newly reopened zoo's manager Ashraf Jumaa, from the same family that owned the old one, said they brought the new lions through tunnels from Egypt.

However others suggested they were bought from another animal centre in northern Gaza.

He denied they wanted to blackmail Four Paws.

"The animals are not kept in species-appropriate conditions. They seem to be in bad conditions and urgently need medical attention and proper food," it said.

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A lioness watches her three recently born cubs at a zoo in Rafah.

An official from the Gaza agriculture ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there had been no coordination regarding the zoo's reopening.

He said Gaza needed a large park meeting international standards.

Agence France-Presse