Gaza Zoo Stuffs Dead Animals Rather Than Close Its Exhibits

04/26/2012

Zoo

One advantage to visiting a zoo where the animals are stuffed: you can safely enter the lion's cage without fear of attack. Otherwise, it's just plain creepy.

Taxidermy is one of the extreme measures that Mohamed Awaida, owner of a Palestinian zoo in Gaza, felt he had to take to keep his zoo open after several animals died following Israel's 2009 military incursion, reports the Telegraph. Besides the lion, Awaida has also stuffed a monkey, a porcupine, a tiger, a crocodile, an ostrich and a deer. He feels that mummifying the animals and keeping them on display is at least better than having to close the exhibits entirely.

Replacing the dead animals is not really an option, since Israel restricts the importing of animals into Gaza.

If the idea of stuffed animals doesn't disturb you enough, consider also that the methods employed by Awaida to embalm and mummify the animals were learned over the internet. So the results are far from perfect. For instance, the monkey is missing an eye and several limbs, and the porcupine has a large hole in its head.

A total of 10 embalmed animals now share the zoo with 65 other animals that are still alive. Unfortunately, conditions for the live animals are hardly ideal either. Enclosures are constructed from shipping crates and rubble from old Israeli settlements, and because there is no zoo keeper on the premises, sick animals are treated remotely over the phone by vets in Egypt.

To be fair to Awaida, blockades enforced due to the Gaza war have made it extremely difficult to ship in vaccines and other supplies that the animals need. Furthermore, most of the animal deaths occurred as a result of starvation when the zoo had to be abandoned during the 2009 Israeli incursion. Even so, one has to wonder whether keeping the zoo open in spite of these conditions is worth the cost to the animals' welfare. Despite Awaida's best efforts, shouldn't the health of the animals come first?

"There is a critical shortage of vaccines here, many are completely unavailable," said Dr. Saud Shawa, a private veterinarian in Gaza City, to a Telegraph reporter. "This along with the ignorance of people keeping these animals without any training in animal welfare [are to blame]."

"But at least some of the animals are still healthy, despite the difficulties we face here. We are doing our best with the limited facilities we have."

Header image via Telegraph video


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