Last year, animal rights activists released footage showing a 14-month-old lioness named Falestine being declawed in a Gaza zoo, sparking an international conversation about the practice. In the video, Palestinian veterinarian Fayyaz al-Haddad can be seen clipping off the animal’s claws using a pair of wire cutters and a pair of sheers.
One of Many: A face of Sorrow. This 14-month-old lioness suffered unimaginable cruelty after she was declawed with garden shears in an amateur & dangerous medical procedure. With our help she’ll be rehabilitated by a team of specialized veterinarians https://t.co/9BZkjiNg4d pic.twitter.com/OTw5yTnCIv
— FOUR PAWS USA (@FOURPAWSUSA) March 24, 2019
“The claws were cut so that they would not grow fast and visitors and children could play with her,” Fayyaz told Fox News.
Lioness Falestine has her head pushed down into the dirt as she lies helplessly in the Gaza strip, far from her natural habitat.
“We want to bring smiles and happiness to children while increasing the number of visitors to the park, which suffers from high expenses, it does not lose its innate nature,” he said.
However, animal rights advocates disagree. Four Paws, the animal charity, said, “For big cats, removing the claws is a particularly vicious procedure which causes long-lasting damage. Natural behavior, such as grabbing food or climbing, is hardly possible without an animal’s claws. Since the amputation was not done in a proper vet clinic, the chance of infection is high.”
⚠️SHOCKING footage revealed: young lioness brutally mutilated!
The owner of the oldest zoo in Gaza allows visitors to play with this lioness & therefore cruelly removed her claws with garden shears! We strongly demand the closure of the zoo! #SaveGazaAnimals pic.twitter.com/t2gJoxKJTB
— FOUR PAWS (@fourpawsint) February 14, 2019
This particular zoo was quite notorious for mistreating animals. A few months after this video was recorded, the zoo was shut down as a result of a different incident, in which four lion cubs froze to death.
In a statement to the AFP after the closure, Four Paws veterinarian and head of mission Amir Khalil said that the group was happy to see that the zoo was finally going to be closed.
The zoo was destroyed during an Israeli army bulldozing operation in Rafah in 2004, before Jumaa re-established it two years ago.
“For far too long, the animals of Rafah Zoo have had to live under unimaginably dreadful conditions. We are happy to finally put an end to this horror,” Khalil said.
All of the animals that were living in the zoo at the time of the closure, including five lions, along with multiple hyenas and porcupines will be relocated to animal sanctuaries in Jordan.
Image credit: FOUR PAWS USA