The life of cats inside a Syrian sanctuary has warmed hearts online, as images show a scene close to “what heaven looks like” according to the internet.
Ernesto’s Sanctuary for Cats is an animal sanctuary in Syria, dependent on support from online cat lovers across the globe. It’s clear to see how they’re able to do it, with the latest picture from the sanctuary going viral online.
“Good morning from Syria,” the sanctuary captioned the photo set on Twitter, which went on to gain over 10,000 likes.
The images showed the yard area of the sanctuary, with over 100 cats lounging in the sun, and as noted by feline lovers, hilariously appearing to give one another personal space. The sanctuary itself is home to over 1,500 cats.
“This is amazing,” wrote one Twitter user.
“Is that…heaven?” joked another, while one user agreed that “this is what heaven looks like.”
Ernesto’s Sanctuary for Cats was founded by Mohammad Aljaleel, who was dubbed the “cat man of Aleppo.” Previously, Aljaleel had run a sanctuary in Aleppo where he cared for over a thousand cats. When the city fell to Syrian government forces though, he was forced to move on.
According to the BBC, the team ran animal welfare courses to develop empathy in local children and set up a playground next to the sanctuary to escape the ongoing civil war, even at its most extreme.
In 2016, the original sanctuary was reportedly bombed and chlorine-gassed during the siege of Aleppo. Aljaleel managed to make it back to Syria after escaping to Turkey, and set up a whole new cat sanctuary, which online fans now know and love as Ernesto’s Sanctuary for Cats.
Established in Kafr Naha, it now includes an orphanage, a kindergarten and a free veterinary clinic. “Children and animals are the big losers in the Syrian war,” he told the BBC. “It’s the adults who so often behave badly.”
Local children aren’t the only ones to enjoy the cats of the sanctuary, as thousands of feline lovers from around the world follow along and donate when they can. Images like the most recent viral photoset regularly delight online, especially those of feeding time.
Cats take to the same yard pictured for three separate meals a day, acting as the sanctuary’s “first line of defense against the cold and illnesses. Well-fed cats are healthier cats,” it shared on social media.
“So many cats living peacefully. People should learn from them,” noted one supporter of the sanctuary online.
Newsweek has contacted Ernesto’s Sanctuary for Cats for comment.