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"The World's Worst Zoo" receives aid, improvements made

BOSTON, MASS. and GAZA, June 14, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A FOUR PAWS team of veterinarians and animal experts was back in Gaza over the weekend. This time, the mission was to evaluate the health of 15 animals and secure the enclosures at Khan Younis Zoo. Laziz, the last remaining captive tiger in Gaza, along with monkeys, long-legged buzzards, emu, deer, turtles, and porcupines, are still living under devastating conditions. FOUR PAWS, the international animal welfare organization has gathered important information and are evaluating the best possible solution for all animals at the zoo.





The FOUR PAWS team, headed by Dr. Amir Khalil, arrived last week at Khan Younis Zoo. The team stayed in Gaza for several days to provide urgently needed medical assistance and to assess the animals and their enclosures. Dr. Amir Khalil stated, "Both the animals welfare aspect and the animal managing standards in the zoo of Khan Younis are very bad! One of the accompanying journalists was even scratched by a monkey because its enclosure was poorly erected – the second fence was just missing".

A medical examination of the animals revealed that one of the five monkeys is pregnant and is suffering from a persistent cough. Three other monkeys were sedated and treated. Their blood was examined and they received some vitamins and vaccinations.

Except for the coughing monkey and a limping emu, health conditions of the other animals seem to be good, despite their dilapidated living conditions. Cages remain extremely small, in disrepair and polluted with debris. In addition, the animals suffer from inadequate and inconsistent access to clean water. Dr. Khalil added, "To improve the keeping conditions in Khan Younis, minor improvement goals have been set, such as installing enrichment tools for the animals".

Thanks to previous food distributions conducted by FOUR PAWS, Laziz the tiger looks well fed and seemed to have recovered well over the last couple of months. The tiger was preliminarily checked and his health condition appeared to be stable.

The FOUR PAWS team also checked the security of all enclosures to assess safety standards for both animals and people living nearby. This was a priority because, in the worst case scenario, if one of the wild animals escapes and runs free, the staff of the zoo and local residents could end up in danger.

As mentioned in the previous mission to Gaza, Khan Younis Zoo has been suffering from lack of funds. The owner, to attract more visitors and increase income, had even been displaying dead and mummified animals in their enclosures. This grotesque and morbid situation has aided the zoo's nickname "the world's worst zoo" in the eyes of the public and media. The owner is now cooperating with FOUR PAWS to help improve the situation.

FOUR PAWS carried out its first Gaza operations back in September 2014 in the badly damaged Al-Bisan Zoo in the north of the Strip. Three lions were transferred to a rescue centre in Jordan. In April 2015, a FOUR PAWS emergency relief team provided medical treatment and fodder to the animals in the derelict Khan Younis Zoo. Then, in September, FOUR PAWS recovered two lion cubs from a refugee camp which Rafah Zoo had sold them as "pets" to a father of six in the camp.

Here is the photo link: https://ftp.vier-pfoten.org/?u=rIsUXmX1 &p=NbRk5MGw

Copyright: © FOUR PAWS | 2016

Photos accompanying this release are available at:

http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=40587

http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=40588

CONTACT: Claire LaFrance Head of Communications FOUR PAWS International Office: +1 (617) 942-1233 claire.lafrance@four-paws.usSource: FourPaws International