An international welfare group is evacuating dozens of animals languishing in a ramshackle Gaza zoo to sanctuaries abroad.

Vets and volunteers from Four Paws International loaded some 40 animals and birds Sunday and headed to the Israeli border in the northern Gaza Strip en route to resettlement in Jordan and Africa.

The rescued animals include lions, foxes, monkeys and pelicans.

It marks the fourth and largest Gaza rescue mission by the Vienna-based organization since Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the Palestinian enclave in 2007.

The blockade and three wars between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers have made life dire for Gaza's 2 million residents, let alone its animals who were already mistreated.

Some died of cold and hunger in makeshift zoos as keepers failed to provide adequate care.