For more than a year after being moved to a Jordanian wildlife reserve from war-hit Syria, two bears, Loz and Sukkar, would cower whenever airplanes flew overhead, traumatized by past bombardments.
They are among dozens of animals that have been rescued from regional war zones, including the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, and brought to the Jordanian Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife.
The sanctuary located in Jerash Province was set up by the Princess Alia Foundation, named after the king’s sister, in cooperation with the international animal welfare organization Four Paws.
Sukkar (“sugar” in Arabic) and Loz (“almond”) are Asian black bears, now aged nine, who were trapped by war in the Magic World Zoo outside the Syrian city of Aleppo before being rescued in the summer of 2017.
“When they were brought here, they were terrified by the sounds of aircraft, especially helicopters, and for more than a year they would hide in a room inside their pens each time they heard airplanes go by,” caretaker Khaled Ayasra said.
The black bears are among 26 animals — eight lions, 12 lionesses, two Bengal tigers and four bears — who live in the sprawling 1.4km2 sanctuary in a wooded mountainous region.
Before they reach the sanctuary, the animals are taken to the New Hope Centre, a veterinary clinic linked to the reserve in Jerash, where they are provided with medical care and undergo rehabilitation.
Some are then sent back to their country of origin, while others are released into the wild or brought to the sanctuary to start a new life.
“In our sanctuaries the animals have the chance to recover from the hardships of their past and very often their natural instincts come back after a while,” said Martin Bauer, spokesman for the Vienna-based Four Paws.
Proper food and medical care is “extremely vital” for their well-being, but the animals must also be able to trust their caretakers and regain self-confidence, he said.
Loz and Sukkar have made huge strides since coming to Jordan.
“They are happier and love to play and meet visitors,” Ayasra said.
Workers at the sanctuary use all sorts of means to help the animals recuperate after years of hardship.
They are given a balanced diet, toys such as balls to play with and even an aromatherapy type of treatment — natural herbs and spices placed in pails inside their pens — to help them relax.
Bears eat 16kg of fruit and vegetables a day, while the lions are given 7kg to 15kg of meat three times a week.
Sultan, the lion, and Sabreen, a lioness, are among the animals who found a new lease on life at the Ma’wa, after their rescue by Four Paws in 2014 from a Gaza zoo following an Israeli bombardment.
“Sultan was very, very nervous and would destroy everything he found inside his enclosure,” Ayasra said. “But now he has calmed down and likes to greet visitors.”
Al Ma’wa CEO Marek Trela, a Polish veterinary surgeon, said that the sanctuary aims to “give a better life to animals who have suffered in different ways.”
The wildlife reserve “is very similar to their natural habitat” and helps them to thrive as they return to an uncrowded, natural environment, he said.
“If they like to see people they can... If they don’t want to, they hide in the forest and they live their own life. That is what we are trying to give them after the hard time they had,” Trela said.
PASTA PUNCHLINE: Billy McLean’s spoof poking fun at misinformation on the coronavirus was meant for friends, but is being eaten up by frazzled Britons It started off as an ad-libbed joke for some friends in a soccer banter group and ended up being heard by vast numbers of Britons within hours. However, the man responsible for a joke WhatsApp audio clip that claimed the UK Ministry of Defence was about to requisition Wembley Stadium to cook the world’s biggest lasagna has said his viral success also shows the risks of believing everything that gets sent to you on the messaging service. Billy McLean, a 29-year-old Londoner who works in software sales, came forward to the Guardian to identify himself as the creator of the much-shared clip
‘AN HONORABLE TASK’: The brigade to Italy is the sixth contingent of doctors the nation has sent abroad to aid governments contending with the COVID-19 pandemic Cuba has dispatched doctors and nurses to Italy for the first time this weekend to help fight COVID-19 at the request of the worst-affected region Lombardy, it said. The Caribbean nation has sent its “armies of white robes” to disaster sites around the world largely in poor countries since its 1959 revolution, with doctors on the front lines in the fight against cholera in Haiti and against ebola in West Africa in the 2010s. Yet with the 52-strong brigade, this is the first time Cuba has sent an emergency contingent to Italy, one of the world’s richest countries, demonstrating the reach of
There are growing concerns for the health of Rokia Traore, a Malian singer who has been on hunger strike at the Fleury-Merogis Prison near Paris since she was arrested on March 10 on allegations of kidnapping her daughter in a child custody dispute. “I am very worried,” said Kenneth Feliho, her lawyer. “She is only drinking. She has not been eating for over a week and her immune system is weak.” Among those calling for the musician’ release are African stars including Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour and Angelique Kidjo. Damon Albarn, who performed with her in the group Africa Express, wrote: “We demand,
FATAL IDEA: The nation’s drugs regulator is curbing use of hydroxychloroquine, which Donald Trump has promoted for its alleged potential to treat COVID-19 Australia’s drug regulator has been forced to restrict powers to prescribe a drug undergoing clinical trials to treat COVID-19, because doctors have been inappropriately prescribing it to themselves and their family members, despite potentially deadly side effects. The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the similar compound chloroquine are currently used mostly for patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, but stocks in Australia have been diminished thanks to global publicity — including from US President Donald Trump — about the potential of the drug to treat COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have potentially severe and even deadly side effects if used inappropriately, including