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Vets Help Animals Rescued from Syria Zoo | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An ailing lion being transported from Magic World near Aleppo, Syria. Four Paws International

Syria’s war was not kind to the nine animals that had been kept alive at Magic World.

As clashes became intense around the damaged amusement park near Aleppo, people struggled to find food and medicine for themselves, let alone for the wild animals in cages.

So last week, an animal charity rescued two bears, three lions, two hyenas and two tigers, driving them 1,000 kilometers to a wildlife reserve in northwestern Turkey, where they are receiving medical care in preparation for permanent homes in sanctuaries in the Netherlands and Jordan.

“There was a wonderful man who went and fed them, and he took up collections from Aleppo, from people he knew, and he had just enough food to keep some of them alive,” Eric Margolis, an American journalist and businessman who financed the rescue project, said in an interview.

“These animals are trapped,” said Dr. Amir Khalil, who heads the effort for Austria-based Four Paws. “They cannot go anywhere. It’s very difficult to supply food and medical care.”

Doctors said some of the animals, including a female tiger, are in decent shape, all things considered.

“There were some skin lesions. She had a massive load of ticks, ectoparasites,” said veterinarian Frank Goeritz. “But due to the fact that she’s still young, everything was OK.”

Others have more worrisome conditions. One of the tigers went into cardiac arrest when he was tranquilized for an exam, and was resuscitated. Both bears need root canals. One of the hyenas has cataracts and the other has end-stage kidney disease.

But with proper care, both vets are hopeful most of the animals will lead good-quality lives.

“We hope their condition will improve in the coming weeks and months,” Khalil said.

The zoo’s owner fled during battles. Some animals were killed by bombs or shells, while others were left to starve in their cages.