The Al-Bisan recreational park in Jabalya, northern Gaza was caught in the recent crossfire between Israeli and Palestinian forces. It had a cafeteria, a soccer field, and carousels, most of which have been crushed by air strikes. Yet the zoo and its beastly residents remain—at least some of them and likely not for long.
The park’s chief veterinarian, Abu Sameer, told CNN that eight to 10 monkeys, a lion, a fox, and a gazelle were killed. Survivors include crocodiles, birds, monkeys, and lions. Many of them appear traumatized and haven’t eaten for 10 to 15 days. According to Sameer, the three lions face the biggest challenge because the zoo can’t afford to buy meat to feed them.
“We can’t get the animals out to clean the cages,” he said. “Many of them are getting sick because they are weak and it is dirty. But we don’t have any alternative places.”
The Hamas government built the zoo in 2008 to give locals a respite from the difficulties of living on the Gaza Strip. With 67 Israeli and 1,960 Palestinians killed in the current month-long conflict, Al-Bisan’s zoo animals only add to the casualties of war.
“You can see the cages for the animals are badly damaged,” zookeeper Farid al-Hissi told the AFP. “When you see it, it makes you sad because they are in a jail now.”