Animals in zoos and parks are at risk of starvation as Russia extends its attack on Ukraine, conservationists in the country say.
Fighting and destruction have devastated areas near besieged Mariupol and Odessa on the south coast, where several reserves and animal attractions are struggling to keep their animals alive.
Continuous shelling and bombing has destroyed the usual supplies of meat for the animals and turned life upside down for workers in one of the country’s worst war zones. Parks and reserves have all lost revenue from visitors as well.
The Ukraine conservation group says supplying animal feed to the Askania Nova reserve, which is home to nearly 4,000 animals including ostriches, emus, rhinos, bison, wild horses, llamas and the world’s largest herd, is “impossible or extremely limited”. of the endangered saigas antelope.
The director of Mykolaiv Zoo, which is not far away and has been hit by Russian shelling on several occasions, says they are running out of money to feed their 4,000 animals, including giraffes, hippos, polar bears, elephants, tigers and the Amur leopard rarest subspecies of the big cat.
Volodymyr Topchyi has appealed to people to buy e-tickets to fund grocery purchases.
The Berdyansk zoo is also in dire need of food for its lions, wolves, alpacas, tigers, black bears, camels, black leopards, lemurs and emu, according to Animal Survival International, a fundraising organization for food.
The organization also says that the Yelanetsky steppe reserve north of Mykolayiv needs food for 28 species of mammals, including bison, red fox, roe deer and wild boar. Most urgently, however, is the reconstruction of a huge fence that was repeatedly breached by Russian tanks.
“If the animals flee, their fate is sealed; They’ll be mowed down in war,” Animal Survival said.
“The grazing bison are incredibly important to the reserve’s ecosystem because they protect it from being overrun by invasive alien plants.”
It said the Ukrainian conservation group managed to reach Yelanetsky in an area where troops were repelling Russian attackers.
The Feldman Ecopark zoo in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, was damaged in fighting but kangaroos were rescued in an emergency evacuation.
Three employees and animals, including orangutans, were reportedly killed there in Russian attacks.
A zoo near Kyiv asked for a humanitarian corridor to rescue animals, as the owner said some died of starvation and cold because supplies of food, electricity and petrol ran out.
The Park XII Months Zoo last week asked for help rescuing the animals or for volunteers to bring food for those that are difficult to transport.
Seven bears were taken from the White Rock Shelter wildlife sanctuary near Kyiv and taken to the Four Paws-run Domazhyr sanctuary in western Ukraine. Three were later taken to Germany, where caregivers wanted to house them permanently.
Conservationists say the shaking and loud explosions are extremely stressful on the trapped animals.
Animal Survival International said the full extent of the habitat destruction and impact on wildlife in the region is unknown, but added: “Once the war is over we will be there to help Ukraine’s wild wildlife, including otters, To help wolves and elk, deer and wildcats who suffer terribly while Russian tanks ravage their homes.”
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