Jerash: For more than a year after being moved to a Jordanian wildlife reserve from war-hit Syria, two bears, Loz and Sukkar, would cower whenever planes flew by, traumatised by past bombardments. They are among dozens of animals that have been rescued from regional war zones, including the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, and brought to Jordan’s Al Ma’wa For Nature and Wildlife.
The sanctuary located in Jerash province north of Amman was set up by the Princess Alia Foundation, named after the king’s sister, in cooperation with the international animal welfare organisation Four Paws. Sukkar (sugar in Arabic) and Loz (almond) are Asian black bears, now aged nine, who were trapped by war in the Magic World Zoo outside Syria’s second city, Aleppo, before being rescued in the summer of 2017.
“When they were brought here they were terrified by the sounds of aircraft, especially helicopters and for more than a year they would hide in a room inside their pens each time they heard planes go by,” said caretaker Khaled Ayasra. The black bears are among 26 animals — eight lions, 12 lionesses, two Bengal tigers and four bears — who live in the sprawling 1.4-square-kilometre sanctuary in a wooded mountainous region.