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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 February 2019

Gaza zoo owner blames winter storm for lion cub deaths

The same zoo was forced to sell lion cubs in 2015 as it couldn't afford to take care of them

Palestinians take a cover from wind and rain on the Mediterranean seaside, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. A harsh weather front brought sandstorms, hail and rain to parts of the Middle East, with visibility down in the Egyptian capital as an orange cloud of dust blocked out the sky. Dusty winds whipped through Israel and the West Bank as well on Wednesday, with hail falling near Tel Aviv and meteorologists announcing that snow was expected later in the day in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians take a cover from wind and rain on the Mediterranean seaside, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. A harsh weather front brought sandstorms, hail and rain to parts of the Middle East, with visibility down in the Egyptian capital as an orange cloud of dust blocked out the sky. Dusty winds whipped through Israel and the West Bank as well on Wednesday, with hail falling near Tel Aviv and meteorologists announcing that snow was expected later in the day in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The owner of a dilapidated Gaza zoo is blaming stormy weather for the death of four lion cubs.

Fathi Jumaa said Thursday that he covered the cage of the day-old lions with blankets ahead of Wednesday's winter storm, but found them dead the next morning at the small zoo in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.

Most of the animals in the zoo were smuggled into Gaza from Egypt via underground tunnels a few years ago, before the Egyptian military destroyed the tunnels running beneath the border.

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Read more:

Lion cubs are stars in Gaza Strip

Simba the lion and Lula the bear flown out of war-battered Mosul zoo

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The wintry weather sweeping the region has made it especially hard for animals that lack proper care.

International animal care groups have carried out several evacuation missions in recent years to relocate animals and birds in poor condition to sanctuaries outside Gaza.

Updated: January 18, 2019 05:44 AM

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