When Iraqi forces drove ISIL out of Mosul in July the residents of the beleaguered city saw a chance of their lives returning to normal.
The human and social cost had been catastrophic in Iraq's second city but this week saw another step taken towards a more certain future with the re-opening of Mosul Zoo.
The zoo's owner, Shaban Mohammed, fled the city in 2014 when ISIL proclaimed its caliphate.
He left a zoo full of animals, on the banks of the Tigris, locked in their cages.
The battle to retake Mosul saw much of the zoo destroyed and many of the animals were killed or taken by ISIL.
Mr Mohammed returned after ISIL were defeated and is now looking to rebuild his business. Renovations are still ongoing and new animals have been purchased, among them a lion and a cub that were smuggled from Africa via Turkey.
While the squalid conditions of the zoo still leave much to be desired with small cages and animals in poor health, the peace and normality are a beacon of hope for Mosul.
Mr Mohammed claims he will build better facilities once his finances and his business improves.