1. Various of Palestinian zoo keeper playing with ostrich
2. Close up of monkey
3. Palestinian zoo keeper feeding monkey
4. Close up of two monkeys
5. Various of lion playing with zoo keeper
6. Two lions
7. Child watching lions in the cage
8. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Wail Abu Muhammad, zoo keeper:
"When we thought to have the zoo we looked for the animals in Gaza but we did not find them and we waited for the opening of the crossing but it did not open, so we used the only way we have - bringing the animals from Egypt trough the tunnels."
The monkeys and lions were drugged, tossed into cloth sacks and pulled through smuggling tunnels under the border between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip before ending up in their new homes in a dusty Gaza zoo.
The "Heaven of Birds and Animals Zoo," stocked almost entirely with smuggled animals, is a sign of Gaza's ever-expanding tunnel industry. At least dozens of passages are thought to snake under the border, serving as a mainstay of the local economy.
Smugglers say a new effort by Egypt to blow the passages up will have little effect, allowing the flow of products like cigarettes, weapons and lion cubs to continue unhindered.
Gaza's commercial trade was literally forced underground after the Islamic group Hamas seized the coastal territory last summer, prompting neighbouring Israel and Egypt to restrict the flow of goods through commercial passages.
While Israel has allowed more goods in after a June truce with Hamas, it is not enough to answer Gaza's needs.
Tunnel smugglers fill the gaps, bringing in contraband drugs and guns and more mundane items like frilly underwear, laptop computers and exotic animals, like the lion and lioness that prowl in a cage at the Rafah zoo.
They were purchased as cubs from Egypt for 3,000 US dollars each, drugged and dragged through a tunnel in sacks.
Two monkeys were bought together as babies. So were three spindly-legged gazelles, one of whom bit several tunnel smugglers when they forgot to drug it, says zoo workers. All told, the zoo animals cost over 40,000 US dollars.
Wail Abu Muhammad, one of the zoo keepers, told AP Television in Rafah that the smuggling of animals was the only way to create the zoo.
"When we thought to have the zoo we looked for the animals in Gaza but we did not find them and we waited for the opening of the crossing but it did not open, so we used the only way we have - bringing the animals from Egypt trough the tunnels", he said.
Egypt, under Israeli pressure, has noticeably ratcheted up its efforts in recent weeks to destroy the passages, blasting tunnel entrances on its side. But smugglers say they can easily build new ones.
Israel has demanded that Egypt block weapons smuggling into Gaza. Israel's main concerns about the current truce is that Hamas will use it to rearm.