This month, the owner of the zoo reached out to the only man around he believed could help: An ambulance driver and animal rescuer, Mohammad Alaa Jaleel, known as Alaa. As thousands of families fled to save their lives during the almost nonstop years of fighting, Alaa started a sanctuary for the pet cats and dogs who got lost in the chaos.
"The magic is over," Alessandra Abidin, a friend of Alaa's who runs the private Facebook group for Il Gattaro d'Aleppo ("the cat man of Aleppo") wrote from her home in Italy. "Only death and war, so many animals have died."
Last week, Alaa visited what was left of the old zoo.