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13 wild animals from war-torn Syria find refuge in Jerash animal shelter

By Muath Freij - Aug 13,2017 - Last updated at Aug 13,2017

Thirteen traumatised animals from a Syrian zoo are being hosted at Jerash’s Al Mawa for Nature and Wildlife (Photos by Muath Freij)

JERASH  — Thirteen animals from a Syrian zoo have found refuge in Jordan, thanks to the efforts of an international animal welfare organisation who moved them from neighbouring Syria on Friday. 

The rescue mission was conducted by the "Four Paws", whose director of project development Amir Khalil described the Kingdom as a “special place where both human beings and animals can find peace”. 

“It is the first mission in Syria and it is very unique because it was a very complicated mission. We call it a 'mission impossible', because saving animals in this area requires a lot of logistics and preparations and high levels of security,” he said.  

Five lions, two tigers, two bears, two dogs and two hyenas are being hosted at Jerash’s Al Mawa for Nature and Wildlife. 

“We have had a cooperation project with Al Mawa for many years. There is a well-trained staff here and the climate is adequate for the animals,” Khalil added.  

 Al Mawa for Nature and Wildlife's CEO Mahdi Quatrameez explained that the zoo where the animals used to stay in the northeast of Aleppo is called Magic World.

“Due to the war, the owner left the zoo and fled the country. Many animals died because of the lack of proper care,” he told The Jordan Times in an interview at the Jerash shelter. 

Quatrameez noted that, because the area was not under the control of the Syrian regime, many factions were fighting there. He added that there was no care offered to the animals, which is what prompted Four Paws to start this mission. 

“It took the teams three months to take the animals out. Logistically, it was very difficult to make this happen. The sounds of bombs and clashes, in addition to the lack of proper care in such a difficult environment, had affected the animals negatively,” he said, adding that the animals will undergo different stages of rehabilitation.

Quatrameez said that this is not the first time the Jordanian shelter has hosted animals from countries suffering from conflicts and unstable conditions. He recalled two previous batches from Gaza and Mosul which arrived in Jordan recently. 


The 1,400-dunum shelter is the “first of its kind” in the Middle East and North African region, Quatrameez said, adding that it also receives animals that have been confiscated following people’s violation of law. 

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