In a country plagued by political and economic unrest, its zoo animals have been all but forgotten, an international conservation group says.
Government funding for the Nikolaev Zoo in southern Ukraine dried up weeks ago, the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization told the Huffington Post, and nearly 6,000 animals are facing a scarcity of food and medical supplies. Similar worries plague the country's other zoos, including the one located on the former estate of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, which contains 2,000 animals, many of them exotic. There, Mashable reports, the staff members who remain haven't been paid in months, and are forced to patrol at night to prevent the animals from being poached or stolen, as some already have been.
The Earth Organization has been raising funds and awareness about the plight of Ukraine's zoo animals since March. [The organization's international president, Barbara] Wiseman says that about $40,000 has been raised throughout the last two weeks for the animals at Nikolaev Zoo and the Yanukovych estate. Volunteers have also been going door to door to collect supplies and food for the animals, she said.
But though the organization has been grateful for the response so far, Wiseman says the funds are just a fraction of what is needed to save the animals.
"We currently have enough money [to sustain the animals] for about 10 more days," Wiseman said, adding that her organization estimates that at least $500,000 is needed to cover the animals' most basic needs for the next four months.