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Last Updated: Wednesday July 26 2006 15:43 GMT

Middle East violence affects animals too

Buba the bear

The fighting in the Middle East, in Israel and Lebanon isn't just affecting the people living there.

It's also causing problems for the animals living in the zoo in Haifa in Israel, a city which has been hit by a number of rockets fired from southern Lebanon.

The danger from rockets means many of the 1,000 animals that live in the zoo have to stay inside their concrete rooms and aren't allowed outside.

Whenever there is a threat of a rocket attack a loud siren sounds to warn the Israelis of what is to come.

Obviously the animals hear this too, and some of them really don't like it.

Zookeeper Ayelet Shmueli is worried about one of the tigers, saying: "The alarm is just on and she's a bit nervous, I guess. She doesn't know what is going on and it's a strange sound."

A tiger at Haifa zoo

The sirens are also a problem for the baboons. Dr Etty Ararat, the director of Haifa Zoo, said: "We can see the change in their behaviour.

"They are very anxious to get out and they are starting to knock on the doors."

The conditions are also affecting a 32-year-old Bengal tiger, called Barbara. She has been at the zoo for 20 years, since she was abandoned by a travelling circus.


"Barbara is depressed," said Dr Ararat. "She likes to play outside but since she has been in here she has stopped playing. She usually comes to me, but now she doesn't pay any attention."

Other animals seem to be getting used to the sirens.

Dr Arafat said: "The bears are not stressed by the air raid sirens but they don't understand why they have to be inside all the time."

One of the bears, Buba, has got a bad sore on her leg because she can't go outside, which is worrying Dr Ararat.

The lions are also being kept inside for another reason.

The bars around their outdoor space were recently replaced with glass, and should that glass break while the lions were outside they could escape into Haifa, which would be bad for the residents.