Gaza zoo features mummified animals

A trip to the zoo usually means the chance to see live exotic animals on display, but the Dream Park El Janoob Zoo in Khan Younis on the Gaza Strip showcases its animals in a different way.

Visitors are treated to an entire exhibition of mummified animals. Workers embalm dead animals such as lions and tigers that are then placed in cages.

This gives people the chance to stroke the furry creatures without being attacked, as would happen with a living wild animal.

The reasons for a seemingly morbid method of displaying animals is due to financial shortages in shipping of live creatures from countries like Egypt and Senegal and ongoing challenges in importing goods into Gaza.

Israel has imposed land, air, and sea blockades on the territory since 2007, in a bid to prevent illegal smuggling of weapons and military material from reaching its Islamist rulers Hamas.

Among the visitors are school children, and like Rwan Ghames, they are very well aware of the reasons for displaying mummified animals at the local zoo.

Zoo owner Ziad Owadah maintains the mummified animals, and says that it would be a waste to get rid of them considering how expensive they were to purchase, so he decided to embalm them.

The zoo charges an entrance fee of $15 for a busload of children, who also get the opportunity to see a few live animals as well, which Owadah belives enhances the zoo experience by seeing animals in all forms.

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