In war torn Mosul in Iraq, the Montazah Almorour Zoo had once been home to a large number of animals, playgrounds and green spaces for tourists and residents. Tragically this week, even with the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians, the ISIS invasion the animals at the zoo to suffer egregious and agonizing deaths; many of the animals including a lioness, monkeys and rabbits either starved to death or were killed by surrounding fire and shrapnel.
On Tuesday, representatives of Four Paws International headed to Mosul to rescue Lula and Simba – a bear and a lion; the only two animals still alive. Dr. Amir Khalil, veterinarian and head of Four Paws was prepared stating:
“We have to act quickly, because Mosul is a dangerous crisis area.”
The volunteers had full support of the army who joined them on the way to the Mosul zoo and were on site as Lula and Simba were tranquilized for the trip. The animals were gently loaded on the truck and escorted out of the city. There everyone was stopped and detained as border guards stopped them stating:
“We’re not sure who owns the animals, there was one owner and now there are many . . .” they said when asked about the military action to stop the animals at the border.
There are reports the animals have been left outside the zoo in their small travel cages. On the organization’s Facebook page, the mission leader Amir Khalil continues to negotiate for the lives of Lula and Simba. As there is a curfew in place overnight, no one has been able to check on the animals welfare or even if they have been fed.
“For us it’s clear – they have to be removed from Mosul to a safe and species appropriate place somewhere else,” stated Khalil.
(Photos of Mosul zoo bear and lion via Four Paws Facebook page)
Read previous report here.
Watch the desperate effort to save Lula and Simba. They are still not safe. Keep your fingers crossed. No doubt there are still many heroes in our world!
UPDATE FROM IRAQ: Yesterday has been one of the toughest days ever in the history of FOUR PAWS. Early morning we departured from Erbil and headed to war-torn Mosul to rescue Lula and Simba from their desolated home. Everything went as we have planned it. We had full support of the army. They joined us on our way to Mosul zoo and were on site when we anaesthetise Lula and Simba. After the two animals were loaded on the truck, they escorted us out of the city until we reached the first checkpoint, which is located at the border of Mosul. There we were stopped and detained. We negotiated, but did not succeed. Lula and Simba had to go back to the zoo, we were asked to leave Mosul without them. During the night our mission leader Amir Khalil started to negotiate. And he still is. We don't know what the outcome of this negotiations will be. But we will do our best to still find a sustainable solution for Lula and Simba. For us it's clear: They have to be removed from Mosul to a safe and species-appropriate place somewhere else. We are still not sure, why we have been stopped at the border. We are currently also trying to figure that out. Please: Keep your fingers crossed for Lula and Simba! They need your support now more than ever!#savemosulanimals
Posted by FOUR PAWS International on Wednesday, March 29, 2017