New life begins for tiger and other animals stranded in world’s worst zoo

Gaza’s last tiger was moved from the battle-scarred enclave on Wednesday with monkeys, emus, deer and a porcupine as they finally left behind a zoo dubbed the “world’s worst”. Laziz, which means Cutey in Arabic, and the 15 other remaining animals from the Khan Yunis zoo were driven on a trailer in cages to the Erez crossing before dawn. The animals crossed the border en route to sanctuaries and zoos in South Africa, Jordan and Israel for what the Israeli army called “a better quality of life”. Laziz, who was originally brought from Senegal via Egypt and smuggled through tunnels into Gaza, will now be transferred to the Lionsrock refuge for big cats in South Africa.

We were quite worried if Laziz would go into his transport crate without any issues. But the tiger just went straight into the box as if he knew that we will bring him to a nice home

Paws vet Amir Khalil

For months vets from charity Four Paws had been visiting the zoo in southern Gaza to treat the animals and transfer them out after international outcry at photos of their conditions. Dozens of animals had died in the zoo, some of starvation, and badly stuffed bodies of dead crocodiles, lions and others were left in the open, surrounded by piles of bones. Khan Yunis had been known as the “worst zoo in the world” since it emerged that the zoo was crudely mummifying the animals that died in their care and displaying them. As well as Laziz, five monkeys, two emus, two deer, two eagles, two turtles, a pelican and a porcupine were transferred. It leaves the zoo empty and it will now be closed.

So many people have followed the progress of our mission eagerly and shown their solidarity with Laziz and the other animals. We are happy that we were finally able to close down Khan Yunis zoo

Paws vet Amir Khalil