Animals evacuated to Turkey from ‘neglected’ Syria zoo

Syria-zooISTANBUL: An international animal welfare charity was on Friday completing the evacuation of a dozen animals stranded in a neglected zoo in the conflict-torn Aleppo province of northern Syria.

The Four Paws group was seeking to move two lions and two domestic dogs from the “Magic World” zoo and amusement park in Syria over the border into Turkey and then to an animal protection centre in the north of the country, a spokesman for the charity told AFP.

The convoy with the animals crossed the Syria-Turkey border late Friday and was now on their way to the animal protection facility in Karacabey, outside the northwestern Turkish city of Bursa, said spokesman Martin Bauer.

In an initial operation, Four Paws said it had on July 21 evacuated nine animals — three lions, two tigers, two Asian black bears and two hyenas — from the “neglected” Magic World.

After a one-day journey, they arrived safely at their new home, the animal protection facility in Karacabey.

“The nine animals currently treated in Karacabey are doing fine. The last years have taken quite a toll on them but they’re on their way to recovery,” said Bauer.

He confirmed that with the evacuation of the last four animals Friday “there will be no more animals left at the zoo in the Magic World amusement park”.

Once all the rescued animals are out of Syria, the organisation will decide where their final homes should be, partially based on their health.

“Four Paws has some very good options with its own animal sanctuaries, including in Jordan, South Africa and the Netherlands,” said the charity’s veterinarian and head of the mission Amir Khalil.

“We will individually decide which place is most suitable for each animal.”