BAGHDAD, February 23 – Help for the last animals at Mosul Zoo in Iraq: a FOUR PAWS rapid response team has been able to provide food and urgent veterinary care to a bear and a lion, the last remaining animals at the Montazah Al-Morour Zoo in Eastern Mosul, Iraq.
For the last three months the zoo was on the front line of an armed conflict between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Iraq army. The zoo was nearly destroyed and most of its animals including a lioness, monkeys and rabbits were killed or died of starvation.
A team of the Vienna-based international animal welfare organisation led by Dr. Amir Khalil entered the ravaged city of Mosul early Tuesday morning to find the zoo and its exhausted inhabitants in a disastrous state. Although alive, both animals look miserable and are suffering from many diseases caused by malnutrition and a lack of veterinary care. Both the bear and the lion have very bad teeth. In addition, the bear suffers from pneumonia and the lion has a joint condition. Their cages were filled with debris when the FOUR PAWS team found them. FOUR PAWS, accompanied by local volunteers, provided the animals with food and first aid. The cages were cleaned up for the first time in three months.
Local volunteer Al Hakam Anas Zarari stated: “The animals have desperately needed veterinary care and I didn’t believe that they would get it in time. Under the circumstances,it would have been very optimistic to expect someone to come and help. I am very thankful to FOUR PAWS for their efforts.”
Dr Khalil explained: “FOUR PAWS is the first animal welfare organisation to receive permission to enter the city of Mosul. We are happy that we managed to provide the bear and the lion with the urgently needed help.”
Dreadful fate struck other nearly 40 animals that had inhabited the zoo. The lion’s mother has died recently, and was buried in a grave next to its cage. A bomb strike killed many other animals and ripped open many cages. As a result, tropical birds, monkeys and rabbits escaped. Some animals, including three bear cubs were eaten by hungry predators or died of starvation.
Though the front line of the conflict has moved away from the zoo, people that come to Mosul are still facing enormous risks. Dr. Khalil: “While performing a vet check we heard blasts of missiles in the remote parts of the city. We managed to give the animals first aid and provide them with food but we had to leave the area before dark. The risk is still too high – we even found some leaflets warning of upcoming terrorist attacks.” (@OnuItalia)