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FOUR PAWS Rapid Response in Iraq: Help for the animals in Mosul

Lula is now living in a grass-covered enclosure for the first time in her life.

Update, 2017/04/11 - Finally Happy Ending for Mosul’s zoo animals Simba and Lula

The mission to rescue bear Lula and lion Simba from the bombed-out Montazah Al-Morour zoo of Mosul (Iraq) finally came to a happy ending. After months of starving, suffering in bomb damaged cages without proper care in a desolate zoo inside the worn-torn city of Mosul, and nine days of waiting at the checkpoint near the border between Iraqi army controlled territory and Kurdistan region, both animals have finally safely arrived at the rescue and rehabilitation centre New Hope in Amman (Jordan). The rescue team of FOUR PAWS were able to release Lula and Simba  into their enclosures this morning, where they can recover from the past strains under the surveillance and protection of veterinarians and animal keepers. 


Dr Khalil and his team negotiated with Iraqi military and authorities and entered Mosul for the second rescue attempt two days later. However, the animal welfare workers and the zoo animals were stopped at the checkpoint near the border out of Mosul again. Days of waiting, organising and further negotiations began, while the animals were stuck in their transport crates at the checkpoint. Despite the difficult circumstances, the FOUR PAWS team managed to take good care of the animals, and to provide them with food and water. Dr Khalil who was with them during this trying time and was sleeping in a small room provided by the military.

For the first time in his life Simba can step on grass.

Yesterday has been one of the toughest days ever in the history of FOUR PAWS. In the 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.

Vets Dr. Amir Khalil (l.) and Dr. Ovidiu Rosu taking care of bear Lula.

During the night our mission leader Dr. Amir Khalil started the negotiations ...

... 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 check our Facebook page for regular updates.


Simba's mother died recently, and was buried in a grave next to its cage.

FOUR PAWS brings hope to the last wild animals of a city ravaged by war

FOUR PAWS rapid response team has been able to provide food  and urgent veterinary care to a bear and a lion, the last animals of Montazah Al-Morour Zoo in Eastern Mosul, Iraq. For the last three months the zoo was on the front line of an armed conflict between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Iraq army. The zoo was nearly destroyed and most of its animals including a lioness, monkeys and rabbits were killed or died of starvation.

Some animals including three bear cubs were eaten by hungry predators or died of starvation.

The animals are not well...

FOUR PAWS’ team headed by Dr. Amir Khalil entered the ravaged city of Mosul on early Tuesday morning to find the zoo and its exhausted inhabitants in a disastrous state. Although alive, both animals look miserable and are suffering from many diseases caused by malnutrition and lack of veterinary care. Both the bear, Lula, and the lion, Simba, have very bad teeth, in addition the bear suffers from pneumonia and the lion has ill joints. Their cages were polluted with debris. FOUR PAWS accompanied by local volunteers provided the animals with food and first aid. The cages were cleaned and the bear and the lion were provided with urgently needed help.

While performing a vet check we heard blasts of missiles in the remote parts of the city.

Food and medicine for the next four weeks

The food will be distributed with the help of local volunteers. The health condition of the animals is still far from good, but veterinary care should help them to overcome the hardest time and we are hopeful they will recover.


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