Heartbreaking images show painfully thin lions feeding on scraps and the body of an emaciated monkey at zoo in bomb-ravaged Gaza

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • Some animals have already died due to starvation in Rafah Zoo
  • Dozens of Palestinians camping between the cages on the Southern Gaza strip
  • Four monkeys have passed away and a fifth is now so weak it cannot feed itself

Horrifying images of painfully thin lions and emaciated monkeys starving to death in a war-torn Gaza zoo have been released today.

Lions, monkeys and parrots have been struggling to find food and medical treatment at Rafah Zoo in the southern Gaza strip, 12 weeks into Israel’s offense on the region.

Some animals have already died due to starvation and others continue to live under harsh conditions whilst dozens of destitute Palestinians are camping between their cages in the private zoo, run by the Gomaa family.

Four monkeys have passed away and a fifth is now so weak it cannot even feed itself, zoo owner Ahmed Gomaa said.

Mr Gomma also fears for his two lion cubs, whose mother has lost half her weight since the conflict started, going from daily meals of chicken to weekly servings of bread.

A worker displays a monkey that died from starvation at the zoo in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on January 2, 2024, where displaced Palestinians sought refuge amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas

Four monkeys have passed away and a fifth is now so weak it cannot even feed itself, zoo owner Ahmed Gomaa said

Four monkeys have passed away and a fifth is now so weak it cannot even feed itself, zoo owner Ahmed Gomaa said

Lions, monkeys and parrots have been struggling to find food and medical treatment at the zoo in Rafah, Gaza, 12 weeks into Israel 's offense on the region

Lions, monkeys and parrots have been struggling to find food and medical treatment at the zoo in Rafah, Gaza, 12 weeks into Israel ‘s offense on the region

He explained: ‘We feed them dry bread soaked in water just to keep them alive. The situation is tragic really.’

Animals are dying and falling ill every day, said Sofian Abdeen, a vet who has worked at the zoo: ‘Cases of starvation, weakness, anaemia. These problems are widespread. There is no food.’

Nearly all of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes due to the Israeli bombardment that has reduced much of the territory to rubble.

Many are now sleeping on street corners and in empty lots in the southern city of Rafah.

In Rafah Zoo, infamously known for declawing lions and its atrocious facilities, a line of plastic tents stood near the animal pens and washing hung from lines between the palm trees.

‘There are many families who have been completely wiped out. Now all our family is staying in this zoo,’ said Mr Gomaa, who fled Gaza City.

‘Living among the animals is more merciful than what we get from the war planes in the sky.’

A U.N.-backed report last week warned that Gaza was at risk of famine with the entire population facing crisis levels of hunger. Israel stopped all food, medicine, power and fuel imports into Gaza at the start of the war.

Though it now permits aid to enter the enclave, security checks, delivery bottlenecks and the difficulty of moving through the rubble of a warzone have hindered supplies.

Many Palestinians living in the region say they do not eat every day.

Animals are dying and falling ill every day, said Sofian Abdeen, a vet who has worked at the zoo

Animals are dying and falling ill every day, said Sofian Abdeen, a vet who has worked at the zoo

Nearly all of Gaza's 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes due to the Israeli bombardment that has reduced much of the territory to rubble

Nearly all of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes due to the Israeli bombardment that has reduced much of the territory to rubble

Parrots struggle to find food and medical treatment while they live under harsh conditions at the zoo due the Israeli attacks that continue in Rafah, Gaza

Parrots struggle to find food and medical treatment while they live under harsh conditions at the zoo due the Israeli attacks that continue in Rafah, Gaza

Some animals have already died due to starvation and others continue to live under harsh conditions whilst dozens of destitute Palestinians are camping between their cages in the private zoo, run by the Gomaa family

Some animals have already died due to starvation and others continue to live under harsh conditions whilst dozens of destitute Palestinians are camping between their cages in the private zoo, run by the Gomaa family

Mr Gomma also fears for his two lion cubs, whose mother has lost half her weight since the conflict started, going from daily meals of chicken to weekly servings of bread

Mr Gomma also fears for his two lion cubs, whose mother has lost half her weight since the conflict started, going from daily meals of chicken to weekly servings of bread

More images of the painfully thin Lions living of scraps in Rafah Zoo in the southern Gaza Strip

More images of the painfully thin Lions living of scraps in Rafah Zoo in the southern Gaza Strip

In Rafah Zoo, infamously known for declawing lions and its atrocious facilities, a line of plastic tents stood near the animal pens and washing hung from lines between the palm trees

In Rafah Zoo, infamously known for declawing lions and its atrocious facilities, a line of plastic tents stood near the animal pens and washing hung from lines between the palm trees

A U.N.-backed report last week warned that Gaza was at risk of famine with the entire population facing crisis levels of hunger. Israel stopped all food, medicine, power and fuel imports into Gaza at the start of the war

A U.N.-backed report last week warned that Gaza was at risk of famine with the entire population facing crisis levels of hunger. Israel stopped all food, medicine, power and fuel imports into Gaza at the start of the war

Thousands of Israeli troops are being pulled out of Gaza despite warnings from military brasses that ‘prolonged’ fighting is set to continue throughout 2024.

In what is the biggest drawdown of forces since the war erupted 87 days ago, the troop movement could signal that fighting is being scaled back in some areas of the embattled enclave.

Israel’s Defence Forces (IDF) have said they are close to assuming operational control in the north of the Strip, where relentless aerial bombardments have been ongoing since Israel declared war on Hamas following the October 7 invasion.

Israel has been under pressure from its chief ally, the United States, to begin to shift to lower-intensity fighting amid high civilian casualties in Gaza, where Hamas authorities say the death toll stands at more than 21,000.

Military leaders however have pledged to charge ahead until Israel’s war aim to dismantle Hamas has been achieved, with bitter fighting continuing across the enclave and casualties rising further on the first day of the new year.

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