Take Your Kids To The Creepiest Zoo In The World – Gaza’s Khan Younis Zoo
So, what do you do when you are very good person, who is caught in a very bad situation with a bunch of really rare and exotic animals? Well, a visit to the Khan Younis (South Forest Park) Zoo in the Gaza strip will give you the answer. On first glance, you will see all kinds of animals. But, upon closer inspection, you’ll realize that over half of them are not alive.
In fact, they are animals that had died and then were stuffed and displayed to keep zoo visitors entertained. Sure, it’s a little creepy, but the zoo really had no choice. They can’t afford to get new animals across the border, don’t want to smuggle them illegally, and can barely even afford to feed the few live animals that they have left. In total, the Palestinian zoo only has sixty five live animals, the rest are all stuffed.
Zoo owner, Mohammed Awaida, said he opened the South Forest Park in 2007, only to lose a number of animals during Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in December of 2008. During the three-week offensive, which was launched in response to rocket attacks on Israel, Awaida was unable to reach the zoo, so many animals died of neglect and starvation. Awaida said, “The idea to mummify the animals started after the Gaza war, because a number of animals like the lion, the tiger, monkeys and crocodiles died. So, we asked around, and we learned from the Web how to start.”
Awaida admits that he’s no expert, with Formaldehyde and sawdust his only basic tools. It’s not uncommon for Gaza zoos to resort to odd ways to get by amid the area’s many woes. In 2009, a zoo in Gaza City displayed white donkeys, painted with black stripes to look like zebras, because it was just too expensive to replace the zebras lost during Israeli’s offensive. When Hamas seized control of Gaza, Israel blocked its ports, waterways, and all but one border crossing into Israel. Egypt also restricted movement through its borders, so any new animals must now be smuggled through an elaborate network of tunnels on the Gazan-Egyptian border, and at great expense.
UPDATE August 26, 2016:
After long negotiations, a rescue mission group, Four Paws, has the green light. With 16 animals from Khan Younis Zoo in the Gaza Strip being removed and transferred to new homes.