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Rescuers Just Arrived To Save The Starving Animals At War-Torn Zoo

"These suffering animals deserve to be heard and seen.” 

Amid the ruins of the war-ravaged city of Aleppo, Syria, are the remnants of what was once a zoo — and people just arrived to save the last animals who have managed to survive there. 

Aleppo zoo tiger
Four Paws

This week, rescuers from Four Paws International coordinated entry into Aleppo, one of the most dangerous places on earth, to save the lives of tigers, bears, lions and hyenas at Aalim al-Sahar, or The Magic World.

Rescuers arrive for Aleppo zoo animals
Four Paws

In the months leading up to this massive effort, a local ambulance driver and animal rescuer, Mohammad Alaa Jaleel, known as Alaa and "the cat man of Aleppo," has been helping to feed the animals and keep them alive.

cat man of aleppo helping zoo bear
Mohammad Alaa Jaleel, a local animal rescuer in Syria, helped keep the zoo animals alive until rescuers could come. | Il Gattaro d'Aleppo

Now the efforts of locals to keep these animals alive are paying off as they begin to arrive at the Syria-Turkey border and start the long trip to an animal rescue center in Karacabey, where they will get medical care.

Three lions, two tigers, two black bears and two hyenas have already started this journey and more wild animals from the zoo are expected to arrive at the border soon.

Aleppo zoo bear
Four Paws
Aleppo zoo bear
Four Paws

"The ongoing war has taken its toll on the animals," Dr. Amir Khalil, Four Paws veterinarian and head of the mission, said in a release provided to The Dodo. "The lack of water, food and veterinary care has left the animals physically and psychologically traumatized. Several animals were killed by severe bombings. There was no way for them to escape from this deadly trap.”

Aleppo zoo hyenas
Four Paws

The health of the rescued animals will be assessed before deciding where to send them for the long-term. For now, people are celebrating the fact that they're even still alive. 

Aleppo zoo lion
Four Paws
Aleppo zoo lion
Four Paws

"Today is a great day of celebrations," wrote Alessandra Abidin, a friend of Alaa who helps spread the word about animal rescue efforts on the ground in Syria. "A great joy to know that zoo animals are now safe."

Tiger being saved from Aleppo zoo
Four Paws

“The ever-deteriorating situation of the animals worried us," Dr. Khalil said. "With our mission, we want to spread the message that humanity cannot be divided and that these suffering animals deserve to be heard and seen.” 

Zoo lion getting rescued from Aleppo
Four Paws
Aleppo zoo rescue mission
Four Paws

Local children are celebrating the good news with a little party in the playground at Alaa's animal sanctuary nearby, Abidin added: "Aleppo's children are happy and also Aleppo's animals."

You can help local efforts to save pets and help children impacted by the war in Syria. You can also donate to Four Paws.