A zoo in the besieged Gaza Strip is being forced to sell its three lion cubs in a final attempt to raise funds to feed its other animals, according to press agency DPA.
Muhammad Juda, the owner of the private facility in the southern city of Rafah, is offering each cub for sale for $3,500 which he hopes will be sufficient to keep his zoo from closing. He needs between $290 and $450 a day to feed the other animals, as visits to the zoo have plummeted.
“There is no tourism in Gaza and very few people visit the zoo,” Juda said.
Last year, international animal rights group Four Paws rescued the 15 remaining animals from another Gazan zoo, described as the worst in the world, in Khan Yunis. Numerous animals starved to death before the owners were forced to sell the few that remained.
The Strip has been facing a mounting humanitarian emergency for many months, as the Israeli blockade surpassed its tenth year; the coastal enclave was forced to confront an energy, water and healthcare crisis. Residents have been receiving a maximum of two to four hours of electricity each day, making fresh water and sewage systems inoperable.
Last month, following reconciliation talks between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas, the PA assumed control of various aspects of Gaza’s governance.
However, Fatah and Hamas failed to meet the 10 December deadline set for the Palestinian unity government to assume full responsibility of the Strip, in accordance with the reconciliation agreement signed on 12 October in Cairo, Egypt.
Last week leader of Hamas, Yahya Al-Sinwar, warned that the reconciliation agreement is “collapsing” and called for its terms to be fast-tracked following US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.