In what may be the world’s worst zoo, animals have been left to die in enclosures without food or water. Once caretakers return to the zoo, the animals who have passed are embalmed and put back on display. Why are the animals left alone to die without care? The zoo is located in the Gaza Strip.
The Daily Mail reports that the owner of the zoo, Mohammed Awaida, claims that caretakers are sometimes unable to get to the zoo to care for the animals for long periods of time due to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. Therefore, South Forest Park Zoo in Khan Yunis is home to dozens of animals who will die a terrible death from improper care and treatment.
Awaida says he purchases all of the animals for the zoo online. He then smuggles the creatures into the Gaza Strip through the illegal tunneling system. He notes that he, at times, must pay bribes to get the animals to his location. However, the steep price tag doesn’t seem to sway his purchase of the exotic animals.
In the special report video above, Awaida says that it isn’t just deaths by lack of care that the animals must endure. The owner claims that some of the animals die as a result of chemicals being launched into the air during the conflict.
“The immune system of an animal can’t handle these chemicals so they die.”
Dozens of animals have died at the Gaza Zoo, but Awaida has no plans to stop smuggling in animals as he can embalm them and continue to have them on display. Awaida took an online course on taxidermy so that he could embalm the animals himself after they died. He is able to then continue to display them in the zoo enclosures.
“The idea to mummify animals started after the Gaza war because a number of animals like the lion, the tiger, monkeys and crocodiles died. So we asked around and we learned from the Web how to start.”
He acknowledges that his taxidermy skills are not that great, but he continues to display the slightly decaying corpses in enclosures alongside living animals.
“It doesn’t matter if the animal is alive or dead. We still want to see it.”
The Gaza Strip has no governing body for zoos and no local animal rights organizations; therefore, Awaida is able to operate his zoo without restriction.