When Syria’s war forced Alaa Al-Jaleel to close his cat sanctuary in Aleppo in 2015 and head north to the opposition stronghold of Idlib, he took around 100 animals with him and reopened it there.
Now his successors at Ernesto’s Sanctuary care for more than 1,000 – and feeding time tends to be loud and chaotic.
“Most of the animals are injured because of the war and because their owners had to leave them when they left their homes. We gave [the cats] shelter, medical care and food,” its current manager, Mohamad Wattar, said.
Do you miss our poses? pic.twitter.com/6kQbJWu2bm
— Ernesto’s Sanctuary for Syrian Cats (@theAleppoCatmen) March 12, 2021
Named after a favourite cat of the Italian women who helped set it up before it relocated, the expanded and fenced-off sanctuary covers 2,000 square metres (21,500 sq ft) of the city, located close to the Turkish border in an area still held by opposition forces.