The Mykolaiv Zoo and its 4,000 wild animals are caught in the crossfire as the Russian-Ukrainian war has dragged on for more than a month already.
Mykolaiv City Zoo in Mykolaiv Oblast, Ukraine is struggling to evacuate animals as logistical factors and security pose a big challenge.
(Photo: BULENT KILIC/AFP via Getty Images)
Ongoing rocket attacks and retaliatory fighting in the city have put the lives of animals at risk.
The zoo consists of 400 species of wildlife, including birds, giraffes, elephants, hippos, leopards and bears, some of which are on the international red list of endangered species.
The animals were very nervous because the sound of gunfire from the battles is literally 600 meters from the zoo, according to Volodymyr Topchyi, the director of the Mykolaiv zoo, quoted by euro news.
The zoo was first hit by a rocket on February 27.
Despite the dangers, around 100 staff at the Mykolaiv Zoo remained at their posts tending to the wild animals, with some staff even sleeping inside the zoo to reduce their number of risky trips through the city.
Mykolaiv is located in southern Ukraine, near the Black Sea.
The precinct remained restricted to the public but some people continued to buy tickets to show their support.
The animals will likely remain at the zoo for weeks to come as there are not enough vehicles to transport them.
Read also : Ukraine’s Save Wild Bear Sanctuary near kyiv evacuates its animals to Poland’s Poznan Zoo
The Russian-Ukrainian war led to mass evacuations of Ukrainians and other residents to neighboring countries.
It also comes with the abandonment of animals, including pets, as owners have had to make tough decisions about who or what to take with them.
According to the United Nations (UN), more than 2.5 million people have already fled Ukraine since Russia began invading Ukraine on February 24, causing a humanitarian disaster and calling it a refugee crisis at the fastest growing since World War II, as cited by the BBC.
The devastation caused by rocket attacks in an open environment full of concrete, glass and metal is not only harmful to humans but also to animals, according to James Sawyer, the director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). who told Radio 1 Newsbeat, quoted by the BBC.
The plight of animals at Mykolaiv Zoo is a manifestation of the struggle facing the Save Wild Bear Sanctuary near kyiv, as well as other animal sanctuaries and zoos in Ukraine since late February.
The war also caused massive evacuations of animals to neighboring countries.
In other cases, several reports suggest that some animals were left behind in the Eastern European country.
In Lyiv, exotic animals left behind by refugees from different parts of Ukraine are housed in the said town in western Ukraine, in accordance with Channel News Asia.
On February 24, Russia entered eastern Ukraine after several weeks of military tension on the Russian-Ukrainian border.
The Russian military incursion was seen as an act of war and a form of invasion, but Russian President Vladimir Putin called it a military operation.
Related article: Abandoned animals in Ukraine receive $5,000 donation from Scituate animal shelter
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