Terrified animals stuck in Kyiv Zoo

Workers have struggled with keeping animals calm while waiting for nearly impossible evacuation efforts

By Kelly McClure

Published March 2, 2022 7:53PM (EST)

Mother and son Eastern Lowland Gorilla, Congo (Getty Images)
Mother and son Eastern Lowland Gorilla, Congo (Getty Images)

While Ukraine remains under attack, workers at Kyiv Zoo, the only zoo of its size in the area, have been struggling to keep their animals safe. 

Closed to visitors, zoo employees have been staying overnight in an effort to calm the animals in their enclosures while bombs and sirens go off at all hours of the day and night.  

Last week Kiev Watch posted a video to Twitter where blasts can be seen and heard near Kyiv Zoo, which houses upwards of 4,000 animals, including Ukraine's only gorilla, Tony.

Related: Reimagining humanity's obligation to wild animals

"It's almost impossible to evacuate animals, because it's impossible to provide appropriate veterinary service and transportation," the zoo's chief, Kyrylo Trantin, said in a quote used by Euro News

As of now, the zoo holds on to hope that a situation will present itself where they may successfully evacuate the animals. In the meantime they're relying on a dwindling supply of food to keep them fed in the manner they were used to. 


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"Becаuse the wаr is cаusing the аnimаls so much stress, some hаve been relocаted to indoor enclosures аnd underground gаlleries," Trantin said.

On Wednesday, photos began to circulate of a Kyiv Zoo employee comforting an elephant named Horace while they wait for evacuation plans to solidify. In a recent post to the zoo's Facebook account, which they've been using to keep the public informed on the welfare of the animals, they stress that although the animals are struggling, they're doing everything in their power to keep them calm, with workers on hand 24/7.

According to Newsweek, a successful evacuation of animals from sanctuaries near Kyiv took place on Monday, into Tuesday, but as of the time of this post no such luck has been had for the animals in Kyiv Zoo. 

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Kelly McClure

Kelly McClure is a journalist and fiction writer who lives in New Orleans. She is Salon's Nights and Weekends editor, and her work has been featured in Vulture, The A.V. Club, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Nylon, Vice, and elsewhere. She is the author of Something is Always Happening Somewhere

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