Gaza lions, Mona and Max, taken to Jordan

Gaza lions, Mona and Max, taken to Jordan
Two Gaza lions were taken to Jordan over the weekend where the British charity Four Paws, which arranged the transfer, hopes they will find sanctuary.
2 min read
06 July, 2015
The lions were being raised as pets by a Gaza family [Getty]
Two young lions that had been kept as pets in a Gaza refugee camp traveled Sunday to Jordan where their final destination will be a wildlife sanctuary.

A Gaza family had bought the lions as cubs from a local zoo that was damaged in last year's Israel war on Gaza. The family kept Mona and Max in their small home in the crowded Rafah refugee camp.

The lions and their handlers arrived in Jordan on Sunday evening after leaving Gaza earlier in the day, said Dr. Amir Khalil of the British charity Four Paws.

The journey hit an unexpected delay on Friday when Four Paws made its first attempt to take the lions out of Gaza, via the Erez crossing with Israel.

There are reported to be five zoos in the Gaza Strip, most of them in private hands.
Four Paws previously transferred three lions from al-Bisan zoo to Jordan in September last year.

Israel and Egypt have severely restricted travel in and out of Gaza since Hamas seized the territory in 2007.

Cogat, the branch of the Israeli military that handles movement from Gaza to Israel, said the animals and their entourage showed up without prior notification after the crossing was already closed Friday.

For several hours, the one-year-old cats were trapped in no-man's land when Hamas denied their re-entry back into Gaza.

The group eventually checked into a Gaza hotel to wait for the crossing to reopen Sunday. Mona and Max were tied next to their crates in the hotel's garden.

There are reported to be five zoos in the Gaza Strip, most of them in private hands. There is no official oversight of the conditions in which the animals in these zoos are held.

Many Gaza zoos have been hit hard by Israeli attacks and the blockade.

In Israel's 2008/9 attack on Gaza, Israeli soldiers are reported to have shot animals in cages at point-blank range in the Gaza zoo.

Many animals in the Khan Younis Zoo starved to death during Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip last year when staff claimed they could not reach them because of the fighting. Four paws recently sent a veterinary team in to treat the animals at the zoo.