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Approximately 40 neglected zoo animals were evacuated on Sunday from a dilapidated zoo in the Gaza Strip by an international animal-welfare group, the fourth such rescue mission from the Hamas-controlled area.

Veterinarians and volunteers from Four Paws International arrived in Rafah in southern Gaza to evacuate five lions, five monkeys, four ostriches, three peacocks, two wolves, foxes, porcupines, 10 squirrels and a hyena to be resituated in Jordan and South Africa.

According to Four Paws staff, many of the animals, which were smuggled into Gaza through tunnels leading from Egypt to Gaza, appeared to have suffered from trauma and neglect.

Gaza zoo animals have been rescued three previous times by animal-rights activists, who have sent numerous missions to provide medical care for the critters. In the past, animals have been found having died of cold and hunger. Just this past January, four lion cubs died at the zoo in Rafah.

Uri Madar, agriculture coordinator for the Israeli body responsible for the crossings with the Gaza Strip, said his organization, COGAT, “sees this evacuation as a mission of ethics and will continue working in support of animal welfare in the Gaza Strip.”

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