There are around 4,000 animals stuck in Kyiv’s zoo amidst Russia’s intensifying invasion of Ukraine, The Washington Post (WaPo) reported.
This includes lemurs, giraffes, turtles, an elephant and a gorilla, out of 200 species, Reuters reported.
In addition, the zoo supposedly only has enough food for about 10 more days, according to British media The Independent on March 7.
Zoo staff have moved in to care for the animals 24 hours
Over 50 zoo staff members have since moved in to the facility, along with around 30 family members, to provide 24-hour care for the animals.
One of the zookeepers, Ivan Rybchenko, voiced his fear that the animals will be killed as Russia continues its shelling.
The zoo’s director, Kyrylo Trantin, was quoted by Reuters as saying that the staff have taken to calling themselves a “zoo military commune.”
“All day, we are working with animals and at night, we are hiding at shelters,” he said.
Animals are increasingly distressed by the sounds of war
Many of the animals have begun exhibiting signs of stress and have been moved into indoor enclosures and underground galleries.
According to WaPo, the zoo’s 17-year-old Asian elephant, Horace, has had to be put on sedatives due to the terror he is experiencing from explosions.
In addition, the elephant has to be accompanied by a staff member each night, who will comfort him from loud sounds, and feed him apples and talk to him if he wakes up in distress.
Meanwhile, the zoo’s zebras have to be moved inside after they ran into a fence due to fear from the sound of shelling.
On Feb. 28, the zoo put up a Facebook post which said, “Animals are frightened by the loud sounds of explosions, but our veterinarians are constantly monitoring their condition.”
According to Trantin, a battle which took place near the zoo sent ammunition flying “all over” the facility.
While there were no obvious signs of injuries or deaths in the morning, the zoo’s birds were seen hurting themselves against their cages following the battle.
As for the zoo’s only gorilla, Tony, the zoo added that he is currently in an inner gallery, with zookeepers communicating with him as much as possible as he misses visitors.With regard to the large animals such as the elephants and giraffes, Trantin was further quoted by WaPo as saying:
“They have no space to hide or run. Once they’re out of the zoo, they have fewer options than any human. It’s going to be the streets with tanks.”
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Top photos via Kyiv Zoo/Facebook