The last two surviving animals from Mosul’s bombed-out zoo arrived this week at an animal shelter in Jordan, after months of malnutrition and a long journey out of Iraq that included being stuck at the border for 12 days.
International animal welfare charity Four Paws coordinated the rescue mission to recover Simba the lion and Lula the bear from the Montazah Al-Morour Zoo in Iraq’s war torn northern capital Mosul.
Neighbours fed Simba and Lula until the fighting became too fierce. They said a shell once hit the park, sending hungry monkeys out of their enclosures. Other animals were killed, died of starvation or escaped.
Amir Khalil, a vet from animal charity Four Paws who saw the animals in Mosul in February and organised their transfer to Jordan, said the animals were in a dire state. At the time, he diagnosed skin lesions, joint problems and eye inflammation in the lion and diarrhoea and bad teeth in the bear.
They were on the brink of death. Now they are able to move, they have gained weight. Physically, they are doing better
Back in Jordan, Lula hesitated to come out of her travel crate until she spotted a green apple.
The two animals will go through a rehabilitation programme that involves hand-feeding them through the fence before being transferred to larger enclosures when their health stabilises.
The animals were trapped in the midst of fighting as Iraqi forces tried to recapture Mosul from the hands of Daesh.