Lion and bear finally rescued from bombed zoo
International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS is celebrating the successful rescue of bear Lula and lion Simba from a bombed-out zoo in Mosul, Iraq.
The Montazah Al-Morour zoo was hit by bombs and severely damaged during an armed conflict between IS and the Iraqi forces over a month ago.
About 40 animals died – some starved, others were directly killed by the bomb attacks, others fled from their damaged cages. Lula and Simba were the only remaining animals at the zoo and were both suffering from dehydration and were malnourished.
FOUR PAWS was the first charity to receive a permission to enter Mosul and the team, led by FOUR PAWS vet Dr Amir Khalil, arrived in Iraq several weeks ago to rescue the animals.
The mission began on Tuesday, March 28th, when the team anaesthetised the animals, load them into prepared transport crates on a truck and travel with the animals to the border out of Mosul, where the team was told it was not allowed to exit Mosul and the military subsequently took the animals back to the zoo while the FOUR PAWS team had to exit Mosul.
Dr Khalil said: “We were never informed of the exact details as to why we were not allowed to pass, but, of course, transporting large wild animals in an area with such a complex political situation is not easy and the military has to check all permissions thoroughly.”
Dr Khalil and his team negotiated with the Iraqi military and authorities and were allowed to re-enter Mosul for the second rescue attempt two days later. However, the rescue team and the zoo animals were again stopped at a checkpoint near the border. Days of waiting, organising and further negotiations began, while the animals were stuck in their transport crates. Despite the difficult circumstances, the FOUR PAWS team managed to care for the animals, to provide them with food and water.
Dr Khalil added: “Our mission in Iraq was supported by many locals and proved that even in the worst hardship there are people who care for animals. I am very touched to have experienced the humanity of the local people as well as the military. Many of the soldiers shared their food with the animals.”
Finally, after nine days of negotiations, both animals finally arrived safely at the rescue and rehabilitation centre New Hope in Jordan this morning (Tuesday), and the team released Lula and Simba into temporary enclosures where they can now start to recover from their strenuous travel conditions under the care and protection of veterinarians and animal keepers.
Lula and Simba will stay in their temporary enclosures at the New Hope Centre until they have adapted to their new surroundings and their permanent enclosure, which is currently being set up, is ready for them.
Dr Khalil said: “It has been a massive challenge but now we are so happy that we’ve been able to bring Lula and Simba to New Hope Centre where they are well cared for. From now on they will have a much better life. With proper food, veterinary care and in a species appropriate environment, they can live without the constant danger of a nearby war-zone and the noise of bomb blasts in the background.”
If you'd like to make a donation to FOUR PAWS to help fund Simba and Lula's new home, simply visit the Four Paws website.