After six years of the ongoing Syrian civil war and the related bombing in the city of Aleppo, nine animals have been rescued from the city’s zoo and moved to a rehabilitation center in Turkey. The animals included two tigers, three lions, two hyenas, and two Asian black bears that have been suffering from abandonment and neglect in the zoo.

Zoo animals moved to rehabilitation center in Turkey

In a joint effort between the animal charity Four Paws and Turkey’s environment ministry, the animals were taken out of the Aalim al-Sahar zoo (or Magic World in English) and have arrived at an animal rehabilitation center in Karacabey in the Turkish province of Bursa, after a 675 mile journey.

Despite ongoing tensions in Syria, the animals have safely crossed the Syria-Turkey border.

Veterinary tests for rescued zoo animals

Frank Goeritz, a wildlife veterinarian, said they will be checking the animals’ blood, and performing both ultrasounds and eye examinations to establish the state of health of the neglected animals. Once they have a true idea of their status, they can then move the zoo animals to their final destination. Officials are planning on moving the animals to more permanent homes in South Africa, the Netherlands and Jordan. The latest rescue involved two female and one male lion, one male and one female tiger, one male and one female Asian black bear, and a female and male hyena.

According to the Four Paws website, veterinarian Dr. Amir Khalil said the ongoing war took its toll on the zoo animals. They are all physically and psychologically traumatized after receiving little veterinary care, water, or food for some time. Khalil said several of the animals in the zoo had been killed in the bombings, as there is no way for them to escape from their confinements.

He added that the animals also pose a threat to humans in the area.

According to a Facebook post by Four Paws, on July 28, a further rescue mission saw two dogs and two more lions heading to Turkey.

Further animal evacuations planned

There are further animal evacuations planned by Four Paws in the coming days to ensure no more of the animals are left behind at the Magic World zoo.

As reported by Deutsche Welle, animal welfare is a major concern in the war-torn regions of the Middle East. Earlier in the year, a bear and a lion were rescued from a zoo in Mosul, Iraq. That report quotes the UN as estimating the human toll of 400,000 people killed during the Syrian civil war in Aleppo. However, hostilities have mostly subsided since the Syrian army took over control of the city.