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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Animals at Tripoli zoo to get vital help through Malta

International Animal Rescue Malta (IARM) has been given clearance by the Prime Minister Dr Laurence Gonzi to use Malta as a hub for the transport of food and medicine to help animals in desperate need in Tripoli zoo in Libya.

20 year old tiger Osama was barely able to walk (Photo: Mihai Vasile/Vier Pfoten)The zoo was closed to the public for several years and became known as Gaddafi's zoo because Gaddafi's son Saif visited almost every day. A tunnel linking the Gaddafi compound to the zoo was discovered recently.

A few members of the staff bravely HIcontinued to tend the traumatised animals as shells exploded all around the complex during the uprising. But the return of relative calm did not ease the problem, with the animals, like the rest of Tripoli, suffering from a water shortage and lack of food.

The death of an aged Siberian tiger called Osama was a result not only of old age but partly because he was living under such stressful conditions. The hippos barely survived the shortage of water but are now said to be recovering.

International Animal Rescue Malta has linked up with several animal welfare organisations to appeal for funds to ensure the safety of animals.

A spokesman for IARM, Max Farrugia, said that last May the organisation ferried a considerable number of pets out of Tripoli that were owned by various nationals who had been working in Libya.

It has since been requested, through International Animal Rescue's head office in the UK, to help ferry food and medicine to the zoo animals.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Humane Society International (HSI) are also channelling their assistance through the organisation in Malta.

Dr Ignat, Dr Khalil and Dr Husni, Director of Tripoli Zoo, preparing to vaccinate a lioness (Photo: Mihai Vasile/Vier Pfoten)Mr Farrugia said Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi has offered to assist through the provision of free storage space. The Maltese government is also making available the transport of the material and personnel.

"The Prime Minister's office is working closely with IAR Malta," he explained.

He said an international group of vets is working round the clock with the Tripoli zoo director to save as many animals as possible.

He added that International Animal Rescue Malta and the International Fund for Animal Welfare had so far provided funding to enable the zoo to get by for the next two weeks. CNN was among the organisations which helped ensure that the funds and materials reached the zoo.

Mr Farrugia said that a medical team from Vier Pfoten (Four Paws) Germany and South Africa were helping in the zoo while two Libyan nationals were providing information.

Anyone who would like to help the animals can contact Max Farrugia of International Animal Rescue Malta.