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article imageUkraine's crisis leaves zoo animals struggling to survive

By Karen Graham     Apr 10, 2014 in Politics
The 114-year old Kharkiv zoo in Ukraine has survived two world wars. With nearly six thousand animals to care for and feed, the zoo, along with several others in the country is now facing a crisis of monumental proportions — how to feed the creatures.
The Kharkiv zoo, located in Nikolaev, began feeling the effects of the economic crisis in Ukraine in January, when the government began diverting funds away from the zoo. In March, the situation at the facility was outlined by the zoo director, Alexey Grigoriev in a letter to Ukraine's prime minister saying: "The Kharkiv animals on the verge of starvation."
The Kharkiv zoo is not the only zoo in Ukraine that is fighting to keep their animals from starving. When Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was forced to flee the country in February, besides a spacious mansion, he also left behind a pristine 343-acre zoo, with 2,000 well-cared for animals.
In a country wary of Russia and Putin's militarist rhetoric, the Ukraine parliament on March 17 allocated $684 million toward building up their military, taking much needed money from sources already stretched to the breaking point. Ukraine's zoos are low down on the list of those entities needing funding in an economy struggling for survival.
In the meantime, zoos around the country are begging local municipalities for help. People have responded with food, medicines and money, but even this outpouring of charity is not enough. Yanukovych zoo employees have left, not having been paid for months, they are now searching for food and money for themselves.
Lionel de Lange, a South African living in Ukraine has made it his mission to help the zoo animals. De Lange contacted the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation (LAEO) several weeks ago, and spoke with the group's president, Barbara Wiseman. The LAEO has raised enough money since late March to supply food and medicines to the zoos for about two weeks. Even with this help, the situation is still perilous.
Wiseman has said that ideally, her organization would like to raise enough money to supply the Ukraine zoo animals with food and needed supplies for four months. She estimated the cost would be about $500,000, and this would then give them time to look at more favorable long-term solutions to the animal's care.
More about ukraine crisis, zoo animals, political crisis, Economy, LAEO
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