Gaza-born lion cubs moved to Jordan for better life

2015-07-06 07:34
(Edward Parsons, AP)

(Edward Parsons, AP) (Edward Parsons)

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Gaza City - Two lion cubs born under the bombs of Israeli planes have been raised by a local Gaza man and his family. Now at 10 months old, he has reluctantly decided to have the animals moved to a nature park in Jordan.

Sami el-Jammal was obliged to bid farewell and end a rare and unique relationship with two lion cubs, which were born in a zoo and then lived with his family in the Gaza Strip for more than nine months.

El-Jammal handed the two 10-month-old cubs to a special delegation representing the Austrian Four Paws organisation, which will take them to a nature resort in Jordan for better living conditions.

He and his five children were sad as they parted from the two little lions. They said they had become attached after living together for so many months.

"The two cubs were like my children, it is really hard and so sad to leave them. I was taking very good care of them and I succeeded to turn them from wild animals that came from the jungle, to non-harmful cats," el-Jammal said.

Refugee camp

During last summer's Israel-Gaza war, the main zoo in Rafah town was badly damaged, but the two newly born cubs survived. After the war was over, and the zoo closed, el-Jamal purchased the cubs from the owner and raised them in his home.

However, when the cubs grew up, el-Jammal's neighbours complained that the animals could be dangerous to children in the neighbourhood, besides the increasing expenses of feeding them and providing them with necessary medical aid.

The Austrian organisation heard the story of the cubs three months ago, contacted el-Jammal and convinced him that they should be taken to a nature resort where they would live in a better environment.

Members of the organisation arrived in Gaza last week, examined the two lions and moved them to Jordan on Sunday.

"Today we moved them through the crossing between Gaza and Israel," said Ameer Khalil, the Gaza representative of the Four Paws, after co-ordination with both Israel and Jordan.

"For two lions to live in a house in a densely populated refugee camp in the Gaza Strip is unbelievable and at the same time it is very dangerous," Khalil said.  

Last year, Four Paws staff also managed to move two adult lions from a destroyed zoo in the northern Gaza Strip to Jordan.

"All over the Gaza Strip, there are 45 lions living in several zoos" with inadequate environmental and medical conditions, Khalil said.

He said the organisation has urged Gaza authorities to establish a more suitable, natural resort for wild animals like lions and tigers.

Read more on:    jordan  |  palestine  |  israel  |  animals  |  gaza

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