Declawing our cats is a very controversial procedure. Not only do a lot of people see it as cruel and unnecessary, it also increases the risk of infection, and can be very psychologically damaging for the cat.
This is especially true for big cats in captivity, which is why a Palestinian zoo’s decision to declaw one its lionesses is causing outrage online. The Rafah zoo declawed one of their lions so that visitors can ‘play’ with it – despite the fact that the animal is not domesticated, and still has a mouth full of sharp teeth.
A vet at the Rafah zoo in the Gaza strip reportedly tended to a paw wound the 14-month-old lioness had before clipping off her claws with a pair of shears a couple of weeks ago. Falestine the lion was tranquilized ahead of the procedure, which took place at the zoo rather than a specialized animal hospital.
Now her claws have been cut back, the zoo are advertising the opportunity to play with the lion, claiming that she’s tame enough to meet visitors.
Below is a photo of the vet performing the operation, in apparently unsanitary conditions.
According to the MailOnline, Mohammed Jumaa, the park’s owner, tried to defend the zoo’s unnecessary actions, saying:
“I’m trying to reduce the aggression of the lioness so it can be friendly with visitors.”
Most people think it should not be interacting with visitors anyway – for the sake of the lion and the safety of the public. This is a wild predator we’re talking about. Despite not being fully-grown, Falestine could easily kill someone.
Fayez al-Haddad, the vet who operated on Falestine, described how they watched the lioness’ behavior as she was taken out of her cage to meet some local residents, including children, for the first time on Tuesday (February 12).
Vet al-Haddad explained:
“The claws were cut so that they would not grow fast and visitors and children could play with her. We want to bring smiles and happiness to children, while increasing the number of visitors to the park, which suffers from high expenses.
From the looks of this photo, it doesn’t seem that it’s just children who are being allowed to play with Falestine.
[The lioness] does not lose its innate nature.”
Needless to say, most people disagree, and with good reason. Animal rights activists have said Falestine has been subjected to horrific pain, and that the zoo didn’t have the proper facilities to carry out the operation. There is a video of the procedure which backs up this claim, but we thin it’s too distressing to show you.
The MailOnline reports animal charity Four Paws explained why the procedure should never have taken place:
“For big cats, removing the claws is a particularly vicious procedure which causes long-lasting damage.
Natural behavior, such as grabbing food or climbing, is hardly possible without an animal’s claws. Since the amputation was not done in a proper vet clinic, the chance of infection is high.”
In Gaza, where all crimes go unpunished, one more heartless act against the animals is done.
One of the few zoos in Gaza recently declawed this baby lioness, and they're planning on declawing another baby lion as well! ..#save_the_lion
— StraysofGaza (@straysofgaza) February 6, 2019
Four Paws went on to claim Falestine isn’t the only animal at Rafah zoo which has been mistreated, and that there are apparently around 50 animals, including five lions, a hyena, several monkeys, wolves, emus, cats, dogs and exotic birds, living in deplorable conditions.
One 12-year-old boy who had the opportunity to get up close to the lioness said he enjoyed the experience, but the vet warned her claws are likely to grow back within six months.
What do you think should be done about this, folks? Should they shut the zoo down? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.