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Monday, July 6, 2015

lions on a flat at Gaza .... and scores sleep on tree at Serengeti

War ravages – yet one family on the warfront still adopted an unusual pet – two lion cubs that have been rescued from Gaza zoo by local refugees who have lifted the baby lions from the claws of poverty.Mona and Alex, the adorable two-month-old lion cubs, have been living with refugee SaadAldeen Al-Jamal and his six children at their home in the Palestinian city of Rafah, in southern Gaza.The 54-year-old father says he bought the cubs from the impoverished Rafah zoo and the unusual pets have become an integral part of his family.

He is quoted as saying that they pets are living inside the house just like the children. They eat and drink inside the room and they have a bed that they both sleep on. They also play football.  Things are not rosy – the majority of inhabitants of the conflict-hit city are refugees and poverty affects humans and animals as well.  Zoo are no longer sustainable – in bad economy, there is little leisure activities, people will not venture to zoo spending amount to see animals and owners of zoos find it difficult to provide food for the animals.  The new owners too would soon find it too difficult as the cubs reportedly consume half a kilo of meat every day.The family might be able to make the situation work for now, but once fully grown, lions can weigh more than 400 pounds, or nearly 200 kilograms ~and cubs could grow to become dangerous. 

The pair - the female, Mona, and her brother, Max - became well known across the Palestinian coastal strip as al-Jamal took them to parks or the beach where children who were brave enough would come up to pet them. Locals say the cubs' presence has elevated spirits in the camp — a welcome change for residents who have suffered eight years of a crippling economic blockade and a seemingly endless cycle of war with Israel.

Ticket sales to Fat'hi Zoo — which is home to the cubs' parents as well as hyenas, peacocks, monkeys, kangaroos and more — total less than $102 per week. That’s hardly enough to keep its doors open and animals fed, said its owner, Mohammed Juma.  Gaza is in dire economic straits -  Israel has enforced a strict economic blockade on the Palestinian territory since 2007 — shortly after Hamas rose to power — controlling Gaza's land borders, airspace and shores and limiting the import of such necessities as food, gasoline and concrete. The blockade has driven both costs and poverty to record highs and caused a complete economic collapse.

Most of the zoo animals in Gaza have been hauled into the isolated territory through smuggling tunnels linking the territory to Egypt.In 2013, a pair of newborn lion cubs died shortly after they were proudly unveiled by Gaza’s Hamas rulers.  Gaza's militant Hamas rulers recently  allowed a pair of lion cubs en route to a wildlife sanctuary in Jordan back into the Palestinian coastal strip after the animals and their entourage had been stuck for several hours on no-man's land at a Gaza-Israel border crossing.Earlier in the day, the cubs were taken from Gaza resident SaedEldin al-Jamal, who had kept them over a year as pets at his family's home in the border town of Rafah, and transported to the Erez crossing with Israel.By the time they arrived at the border, the Israeli side had closed and the cubs remained on no-man's land after Hamas guards refused to let them back into the Palestinian territory.But after several hours, Hamas allowed them back in and the cubs' entourage checked into a Gaza hotel, together with the lions in crates, to wait there until the Israeli crossing reopens later.  The Israeli security branch responsible for the crossings said the lions and their entourage showed up out of the blue after the crossing had closed and without any prior coordination and appropriate preparations, unlike in a previous case involving lions.

For the pair Mona and Max, life is no bed of roses – lions do not live in apartments and sleep on tiles – but inside the woods of Savanna on grass and sand.  As one thought so, here is a photo from Daily Mail showing lions sleeping on trees at Serengeti !

In an unrelated instance Hamas had  given controversial names to the two latest additions at its Bissan amusement park, African lion cubs Fajr and Sjel. The brother and sister,  were the  offspring of lions smuggled from Egypt in underground tunnels.  The names give a defiant message during the one-year anniversary of the eight-day conflict with Israel in which more than 100 people - almost all Palestinians - were killed.While Sjel - arabic for "clay" - is the name Hamas gave to the conflict, Fajr - translated as "dawn" - is the name of the Iranian-made missiles they fired at Israel.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

6th July 2o15.

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