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Lion cubs die days after they were born as Gaza zoo

Nov. 22, 2013 at 4:32 PM   |   Comments

BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Officials at the Bissan Zoo in Gaza say they have several theories as to what caused two newborn lions to die just days after they were born.

The cubs, Fajr, a male, and Sijil, a female, died Thursday at the zoo after being born Monday, The New York Times reported.

"A symbol of beauty, power and strength recently born in the besieged #Gaza Strip," the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, tweeted Tuesday.

Zoo officials said there are a several possible reasons why the animals failed to survive, first being that the cubs' mother, who was smuggled into Gaza from Egypt along with the father in 2008, refused to feed the newborns, said Nasim Abu Safia, who is in charge of feeding the animals at the zoo. Zookeepers had been feeding the newborns regular milk.

Secondly, an Israeli military plane dropped three bombs on an Islamic Jihad training base near the zoo Tuesday, causing the lioness to panic and step on her cubs, Safia said.

Safia said the zoo also is cold this time of year and does not have the facilities to properly shelter newborns.

"We tried as much as possible to save their lives and keep them alive," Safia said, "but it was out of our hands and beyond our capabilities."

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