While millions fled their homes in Ukraine in the quest for safety when Russia launched a full-fledged attack, those who couldn't are living every day in fear. In a surprising news from the war-ravaged Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, around 50 staff, including vets, engineers, and keepers, plus 30 of their family members have moved in at the local zoo to care for the 4,000 animals who couldn't flee the city.
The zoo houses more than 200 species of animals including elephants, hyenas, and Tony, Ukraine's only gorilla. The animals are terrified by the sound of explosions all around them and have to be relaxed by the staff members who have made a permanent shelter for themselves in the zoo.
A 17-year-old male Asian elephant, Horace becomes restless at the sound of the explosions and has to be in the constant company of a staff who soothes and relaxes him. "If a rocket or shell lands, they know how to calm him down," zoo director, Kyrylo Trantin said. A bird enclosure and an unfinished aquarium were converted into a makeshift air shelter at the zoo, DailyMail reported.
'Once they're Out of the Zoo, they have Fewer Options than Any Human'
Trantin, 49, noted that animals stand an even lesser chance than humans to survive if left to escape on a battlefield. "Once they're out of the zoo, they have fewer options than any human," he said.
Last week, amid the Russian attack, lions, tigers, and other animals were evacuated from a sanctuary near Kyiv to Poland. However, staff at Kyiv Zoo noted that it was impossible for them to evacuate all the animals from their zoo due to extensive vet care and transport needed.
Sedatives are Administered to Elephants and Other Vulnerable Species
A 33-year-old staffer, Ivan Rybchenko said that he chose to take care of the giraffes, deer, and horses instead of joining territorial defense forces because they would simply die if he left them.
Some animals are already being kept in indoor enclosures and underground galleries to protect them from shelling. Zebras panicked and ran into a fence after hearing the explosions so they were permanently moved inside.
Sedatives were administered to elephants and other vulnerable species. According to the zoo director, who began preparing a week before the invasion started, the zoo currently has enough food and supplies to last for the next two weeks.