From a life of captivity to a life worth living.

How a unique collaboration transformed the lives of animals rescued from a Jordan zoo.

A new home and a new life for victims of the illegal wildlife trade.

Our work investigating the live export trade to Jordan led to a special friendship with HRH Princess Alia al Hussein and the establishment of the Princess Alia Foundation (PAF) – an initiative to cultivate care and compassion for animals.

As part of our work with PAF we were asked to visit the country’s zoos, where like in many parts of the world where the illegal wildlife trade is thriving, zoo owners had found themselves with animals they had no capacity to properly care for.

  • bears were living in solitary confinement
  • waterbirds were deprived of water
  • highly intelligent striped hyenas cowered in fear in small concrete pens
  • a lone lion cub in a barren cage was already showing signs of trauma, and
  • other animals were living in conditions that denied them any ability to express natural behaviours

In a unique collaboration with the zoo owners, the Princess Alia Foundation and government authorities, Animals International successfully negotiated the release and rehoming of the animals most in need.

We took into our care:

  • three Syrian bear cubs (later joined by two more who were born after negotiations had taken place)
  • a 4-month-old African lion cub (who in a remarkable twist of fate was soon joined by his two sisters after authorities intercepted their attempted sale on the black market)
  • two Striped hyenas
  • an Arabian wolf
  • three Great White pelicans
  • a Golden eagle
  • an Egyptian vulture
  • a Falcon, and
  • a Eurasian badger

The animals who couldn’t be released back into the wild spent some time at the New Hope rehabilitation centre – a PAF initiative – and are now living the most glorious life at the Al Ma’wa wildlife sanctuary in Jordan.

The problem with zoos.

What’s unfolding in Jordan’s zoos is a classic example as to the cause of animal suffering world-wide — inherited and conditioned thinking that animals exist solely for human use. Seeing busloads of Jordanian children arriving at the zoos was one reason why we prioritised this project. This generational thinking was set to continue.

But issues in the captive animal industry are by no means unique to Jordan. Conditions and standards of living for animals may vary in zoos across the world but the one thing they all have in common is their inability to give wild animals any semblance of a natural life.

The only creature on earth whose natural habitat is a zoo is the zookeeper.
Robert Brault

Every one of us can make a difference to the lives of animals in zoos by choosing animal-friendly alternatives to these establishments – such as admiring animals in the wild, at sanctuaries or through the array of extraordinary wildlife documentaries now on offer.