Lion and cub
Lion and cubFlash 90

Forty animals including five lions are to be rescued from squalid conditions in Gaza, an animal welfare group said on Wednesday.

The animals would be taken out of a zoo in the Hamas-controlled enclave and relocated to sanctuaries in Jordan next week, the Four Paws organization said.

Among the other animals to be taken out were a hyena, monkeys, wolves and porcupines, the organization said in a statement.

The owner of the Rafah Zoo in southern Gaza was not immediately available for comment.

The zoo hit the headlines last month when the cash-strapped owner revealed he had declawed one of the lions there, so that customers could play with her for money.

The organization condemned the declawing, with almost 150,000 signing a petition against the treatment.

The animals would be treated and sedated, before being taken through Israel into Jordan, Four Paws said.

"For far too long, the animals of Rafah Zoo have had to live under unimaginably dreadful conditions," said Four Paws veterinarian and head of mission Amir Khalil.

"We are happy to finally put an end to this horror," he said in the statement.

The animal welfare group has previously evacuated two other zoos in Gaza, where owners were unable to provide adequate conditions.

In 2016 Four Paws helped facilitate the transfer of the sole tiger in the Gaza Strip, with it eventually relocated to South Africa.

In 2017 the organization rescued a lion and a bear from a zoo in Mosul in Iraq, the former stronghold of the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group.