Brave Ukrainian zookeepers and their families moved into the zoo in Kyiv to take care of the animals during the Russian invasion.
While hundreds of thousands of people have already fled Ukraine in fear of their lives, 50 zookeepers and some 30 family members decided to risk their lives to stay behind at the zoo in the embattled capital to look after 4,000 animals.
Among those who stayed behind is zoo director Kyrylo Trantin who revealed that it was nearly impossible to evacuate all of the animals in the zoo due to current logistics issues and problems with transport.
Rather than abandoning them and letting them starve to death, a number of volunteers stayed behind in spite of the risks to care for the animals.
“They have no space to hide or run. Once they’re out of the zoo, they have fewer options than any human,” Trantin said of larger animals who can’t take refuge in the makeshift raid shelters at the zoo.
Among the animals worthy of a better future is 17-year-old Asian elephant Horace who has been struggling to stay calm due to loud explosions in the city.
“If a rocket or shell lands, they know how to calm him down,” Trantin added as he explained how another zookeeper talks to the elephant and feeds him to help him calm down.
Meanwhile, 33-year-old keeper Ivan Rybchenko said there was no way for him to join the fight against the invaders without sacrificing the wellbeing of the animals he loves.
“I’m taking care of giraffes, deer and horses. So there’s no way for me to join territorial defense because they would simply die. I’m afraid that any of the animals in the zoo will be killed,” he expressed.
As the Kyiv Zoo director also confirmed, the zoo only has enough provisions to last for two more weeks before the need for restocking arises.
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