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15 June, 2024
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Displaced Gazans seek shelter among lions and monkeys in zoo crisis

Gaza's zoo wildlife and residents battle starvation together


In the heart of the Rafah Zoo, amid cages holding monkeys, parrots, and lions, displaced Gazans have found temporary refuge during Israel's 12-week military offensive.

The relentless bombardment has forced the majority of Gaza's 2.3 million people out of their homes, with many now crowded into the southern city of Rafah, including makeshift settlements at the private zoo run by the Goma family.

Tents dot the landscape near animal pens, where members of the extended Goma family, once residing in different parts of the Gaza Strip, now share space with the zoo's inhabitants.

Adel Goma, who left Gaza City, reflects on the profound impact of living among animals during wartime, saying, "Living among animals makes you more compassionate even when war planes fly overhead."

However, the dire situation extends beyond displaced humans. The zoo's owner reveals that four monkeys have already perished, and a fifth is so weakened that it cannot feed, mirroring the struggles of the human inhabitants.

Concerns mount for the two lion cubs as their mother loses half her weight due to limited food supplies.

Sofiane Abdeen, a veterinarian at the zoo, paints a grim picture of the animals' plight, citing starvation, weakness, and anemia. "These problems are everywhere. There is no food."

The grim reality extends to the wider population, as a UN-backed report warns of famine risk, with acute hunger affecting the entire Gaza Strip.

While Israel now permits aid into the enclave, challenges persist, including security checks, congestion at delivery points, and navigating through the war-torn landscape.

Many Palestinians face daily struggles for food, underscoring the urgent need for assistance in this desperate struggle for survival.

Cyprus  |  Gaza  |  zoo  |  animals  |  war  |  food

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