Lions transferred from Gaza zoo damaged by bomb attack during conflict with Israel

The lions have been relocated from the Al-Bisan zoo to a new home in Jordan

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The Independent Online

Three lions have been relocated from Gaza to a new home in Jordan after their zoo was heavily damaged during the conflict with Israel earlier this year.

The three big cats - two males and a pregnant female - were sedated at the Al-Bisan zoo, in Beit Lahiya, before they were loaded onto crates and transported into Jordan.

More than 80 animals at the zoo died as a result of air strikes in early July, the Four Paws international welfare group has said.

The group said it worked with officials and representatives from Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Palestine in order to secure the removal of the lions on Tuesday.

Veterinary surgeon Dr Amil Khalil, of Four Paws, said: "This was about more than species-appropriate shelter, sufficient food and medical treatment. After all, lions are dangerous wild animals.

"After the air strikes, the enclosures were far from safe for the keepers and for anyone visiting the zoo. That’s why we looked for a solution away from Gaza."

Once in Jordan, the lions were released into their temporary compound where they will wait for their new permanent enclosure to be built.

The group is also working to help roughly 30 animals that remain in the zoo, including wolves, vervet monkeys, pelicans and a crocodile.

Last week it provided food, water and medical treatment for the surviving animals.

It is working to set up an animal shelter - the Al Ma'wa for Nature and Wildlife - roughly 45km from Amman in Jordan.

As soon as their new enclosures are ready (these are still being built), the lions will move into a permanent new home (FOUR PAWS/Adel Hana)

Dr Khalil said: "We can see how much the people in Gaza love their zoo and its animals.

"So Four Paws is pledging its expertise and financial support for the correct reconstruction of the enclosures. We also want to train the local team in how to deal with the animals."

Support is also being provided by French animal welfare organisation 30 Millions d'Amis.

Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza since 2007, when the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power there.

Last year a pair of newborn lion cubs died shortly after they were unveiled by Gaza's Hamas rulers.

Additional reporting by Associated Press