Albanian authorities have forced their way into a private zoo and rescued the final few malnourished and diseased animals from it.
Earlier this month Albania’s Minister of Tourism and Environment Blendi Klosi, led a rescue mission to remove the animals from Safari Park Zoo in Fier, in the southwest of the country after reading a MailOnline story about their plight.
Pictures released today show the last of the animals including a malnourised zebra, deer and a lion being rescued from the ‘zoo from Hell’ by police and staff from FOUR PAWS, an international animal welfare charity.
Members of animal welfare charity Four Paws carry a heavily sedated lion out of the zoo
Two male lions rest in their cage at the local city zoo as they wait to be rescued by authorities
Albanian authorities forced their way into a private zoo park to remove some of its animals including these lions in cages from Safari Park Zoo in Fier
Police and staff from FOUR PAWS, an international animal welfare charity, removed the last of the animals
Pictured is a zebra that has been rescued from the zoo. Earlier this month, Albania’s Minister of Tourism and Environment led a rescue mission to remove the animals after reading about their plight in the MailOnline
A male lion rests in its cage at the zoo today as it awaits rescue. The rescue operation was ordered by Albania’s Minister of Tourism and Environment Blendi Klosi
This poor deer was locked in this desolate cage in the privately owned zoological park but can now hope to enjoy a better life after being rescued
This malnourished lion was among those rescued from the zoo after it was locked up in desolate concrete cage.
FOUR PAWS officials loading one of the animals into a back of a van
Albania’s Minister of Tourism and Environment, Blendi Klosi, ordered the animals, including this lion, to be rescued last month
Four Paws staff prepare sedatives to give to the animals before they are carried out of the zoological park
This Four Paws staff member takes picture of this poor zebra which was kept in a cramped cage
This man from Four Paws tries to cut open an enclosure gate in order to evacuate animals from the zoo
The officials forced their way past a locked main gate at the zoo which has been closed by owners after criticism emerged about the treatment of its animals.
Veterinarians from FOUR PAWS sedated 12 animals – three lions, a bear, a waterbuck, four deer, a fox, a zebra and a turtle before transporting them to a public zoo in the country’s capital Tirana.
Shocking pictures taken at the zoo by an anonymous photographer, showed a ‘severely malnourished’ lion living in cramped conditions with what appeared to be an untreated eye injury.
They also showed animals languishing in desolate, dirty concrete cages surrounded by their own waste and without even the most basic provisions such as fresh water and shade.
Despite this the zoo’s owners have denied that the animals were sick or malnourished.
He said: ‘In response to the news published in the Daily Mail and dozens of messages on the unacceptable situation where some animals live in a private zoo in Fier, I urgently ordered the launch of an action by the Environmental Inspectorate, which in cooperation with the Fier Police and the Animal Protection Association have decided to displace the animals in order to protect them.’
The images were taken by the photographer in the hope that the conditions at the zoo could be exposed.
The photographer claimed vets who have visited the macabre facility described what they were greeted with as ‘some of the worst animal welfare conditions they have ever seen’.
They said: ‘All the animals are kept in tiny, unhygienic concrete cages with no possibility to retreat from the elements or from the prying eyes of visitors to the zoo.
FOUR PAWS staff at the zoo with medical equipment to treat the malnourished and diseased animals
This image taken by a anonymous photographer, determined to expose the conditions at the zoo. The release of the picture and of other animals led to Albania’s Minister of Tourism and Environment Blendi Klosi ordering for them to be rescued from the zoo
‘The animals suffer from a range of physical and psychological issues caused by the miserable conditions, improper veterinary care and lack of an appropriate diet.’
The photographer said that as well as the animals seen in the images, there are also a bear and monkeys, as well as three adult lions thought to have been there since they were cubs.
It is understood they were among around 14 lion cubs born at the zoo. The rest are thought to have died, been sold or simply been given away to friends of the owner.
International animal welfare organisation Four Paws, which has has been active in Albania in recent years, called the situation at the zoo ‘absolutely unacceptable’.
Better than nothing: A deer pictured moving around on the concrete floor of the zoo before being rescued
‘The conditions at the Safari Park Zoo do not even come close to being appropriate, particularly for large wild animals like lions and bears which have very specific environmental and dietary needs,’ said Ioana Dungler, who heads up Four Paws’ Wild Animals Department.
‘Signs of the mental and physical impact of being kept in such abject surroundings can be clearly seen on each of the poor animals at the zoo.
‘It is undoubtedly very far from most peoples’ understanding of a ‘safari park’ and represents an animal welfare emergency.
‘Put simply, if something is not done soon these animals will continue to suffer and most likely die in these unspeakable conditions.’