Great Big Story caught up with Amir Khalil, a very brave and compassionate veterinarian in Amman, Jordan who works with the rapid response animal rescue organization Four Paws international. Khalil’s noble mission is to rescue animals who are trapped inside combat zones through no fault of their own and bring them to quieter, peaceful areas. He also rescues animals from natural disasters and from abusive environments.
Imagine being trapped in a cage as active combat rages around you. That’s the terrifying reality for zoo animals living in war zones. Veterinarian Amir Khalil is saving as many as he can. He runs the rapid response unit of the animal rescue organization Four Paws and risks his life rushing into trouble spots around the globe, treating and evacuating shell-shocked, starving and injured animals.
Khalil and Four Paws have made rescues from such places as Myanmar, Syria, and Iraq. The largest rescue to date is from a neglected zoo in Rafah, Gaza, where 47 animals were taken and brought to safety in Jordan and South Africa.
On 7th April 2019, the rescue team transferred 47 zoo animals out of the Gaza Strip. The animals – including five lions, a hyena, several monkeys, wolves, porcupines, foxes, cats, dogs, emus, ostriches, and squirrels – come from a neglected zoo in Rafah in the south of Gaza. The rescue mission was originally scheduled for the end of March but had to be postponed due to ongoing unrest in the region. FOUR PAWS brought most of the animals to Jordanian wildlife sanctuaries with two of the lions to fly on to South Africa today, 8th April. There they will live in species-appropriate enclosures.
Dr. Khalil spoke about this crisis.
Here are some of those beautiful animals who have been given a second lease on life.