The inhumane procedure was reportedly carried out in an attempt to bait visitors into visiting the zoo on the premise of being able to interact and play with the poor creature.
Trigger Warning: This story contains details of animal abuse.
The declawing of a 14-month-old lioness in a Palestinian zoo, which was desperate for business, sparked massive outrage. The inhumane procedure was reportedly carried out in an attempt to bait visitors into visiting the zoo on the premise of being able to interact and play with the poor creature. The heartbreaking incident, that took place last year, saw the procedure being conducted in the zoo due to the lack of proper veterinary facilities in the war-torn Gaza strip where the Rafah zoo is located. Despite still having a full set of sharp teeth, the zoo maintained that lioness was supposedly "placid" enough to meet visitors.
Lioness declawed in Gaza zoo so it can ‘play’ with visitors.https://t.co/o4fRHcz0iG— RT Newsdesk (@RT_Newsdesk) February 14, 2019
According to Daily Mail, the lioness named Falestine was tranquilized, shrouded, before being hoisted onto a table so veterinarian Fayez al-Haddad could get to work. He clipped off her claws one by one using a pair of shears before sewing up her bloody wounds. A few weeks later, she was subjected to the cruelty again so Haddad could complete what he had started. One can only imagine the pain and confusion the helpless creature might have experiences after witnessing her painful gashes. While animal rights campaigners criticized the move saying they subjected Falestine to horrific pain, the zoo's owner 53-year-old Mohammed Jumaa and the Haddad seemed to be morally unaffected by the act.
"I'm trying to reduce the aggression of the lioness so it can be friendly with visitors," said Jumaa. Meanwhile, Haddad defended his actions saying, "The claws were cut so that they would not grow fast and visitors and children could play with her." Four Paws charity branded this procedure as horrific and agonizing for the lion. "For big cats, removing the claws is a particularly vicious procedure which causes long-lasting damage," it said. They further explained how removing a lion's claws was equivalent to amputation the fingers of a human up to the knuckles and that without them lions lose their vital function. "Natural behavior, such as grabbing food or climbing, is hardly possible without an animal’s claws. Since the amputation was not done in a proper vet clinic, the chance of infection is high," the added.
But Haddad claimed, "(The lioness) does not lose its innate nature," and that the seared off claws would typically grow back in 6 months. "Lions will not give up their offensive instincts," he added. He didn't seem to have any remorse about declawing the lioness with proper facilities as he said, "We want to bring smiles and happiness to children while increasing the number of visitors to the park, which suffers from high expenses." One would expect a veterinary of all people to understand the animals' pain but sadly that wasn't the case. Only a handful of zoos exists in Gaza, all of which are pretty run down. This unconventional animal care practice is being embraced as a tool to help snuff out the competition.
For Rafah zoo, which opened more than two decades ago, animal welfare doesn't seem to be a priority evidently. The small zoo situated close to the border of Egypt, the southernmost part of the Gaza strip was shut down in 2004 after an Israeli army bulldozing operation destroyed it completely. Before that many animals lost their lives due to rocket attacks and such. It wasn't until recently that Jumaa had the Rafah zoo re-established and running again. Although the zoo is up and running, there's no improvement in the well-being of captive animals. Four Paws believes that the establishment has no business staying open.
Apparently, four newborn lion cubs were carelessly left to freeze to death at the zoo, while at least 49 others are trapped in pitiful enclosures, disclosed the charity. The helpless captives include lions, wolves, monkeys, exotic birds, emus, and a hyena. They went on to claim that animals are smuggled to and from the Gaza through underground tunnels that connect to the zoo. What will happen to the resident animals of the Rafah zoo only time will tell.