Kharkiv Zoo’s big cats and bears will be euthanised before Russian shelling gets them

NEWS AND COMMENT – KHARKIV, UKRAINE: The zookeepers at Kharkiv Zoo are making plans to euthanize the big cats and bears in case Russian shelling allows them to escape into what’s left of the city. And I presume to save them from being shelled to death by the Russians. Far better to euthanize these big cats than allow them to be shelled and quite likely badly injured. Or if they escape, they would be free to run around a semi-destroyed city with nothing to eat and where they would terrify the few citizens who are on the street.

Alexander Feldman. The zoo's owner
Alexander Feldman. The zoo’s owner. Photo credit: see photo.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Can you imagine what that would be like? It does not bear thinking about. Lions and tigers roaming around a badly shelled and partly destroyed Ukrainian city with the odd citizen brave enough to be outside and the remainder in basements. It paints a picture of complete madness.

The zookeepers are fearful that the big cats will escape. Their cages are already holed by more than five weeks shelling in this hellish war. They say that it is a miracle that they have not already escaped.

The zoo is called Feldman Ecopark after the owner Alexander Feldman. They have already evacuated some animals including some kangaroos but they are desperate to move the bigger predators to an old horse-riding complex in the Poltava region.

Feldman said that his zoo no longer really exists. He said if they can’t move them then they will have to euthanise them. They find the whole process unimaginably painful. Alexander Feldman spoke about the predicament that his zoo was under and said that if there is one more shelling the big cats and bears may escape into Kharkiv because of fear.

Note: This is an embedded video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source or the video is turned into a link which stops it working here. I have no control over this.


The aviaries have been destroyed as has the infrastructure. It’s amazing that the tigers and lions have survived. It must be absolutely hell for them though. They must be terrified by the noise and the destruction.

The zoo has some jaguar cubs as well and they will try to save them. But Mr Feldman is very pessimistic and says that even the cubs looked likely to be euthanised.

Yesterday and today, there was more shelling in the area and of the zoo. On March 17 the shelling killed two orangutans and chimpanzees. Two days after that nine deer were killed by the shelling and 20 escaped into the woods nearby.

Some kangaroos have been evacuated, however. Before the war the zoo had more than 300 species of animal.

It is obviously completely untenable to run a zoo during the middle of a war such as this one where there is mass destruction. The number of animals, domestic and wild, that are being killed and that have been killed is unimaginable. I’ve just read that a dog shelter was left abandoned with the dogs in cages for several weeks resulting in hundreds of dogs dying of starvation.

I couldn’t write about that in detail because it’s just too horrific. The area had been occupied by the Russians and therefore the Ukrainians couldn’t help the dogs. Is there no end to this hell which is entirely the work of the Russians and at the top of that hierarchy is Putin who’s been accused of war crimes by President Biden and genocide by President Zelensky. The Russian deny everything.

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5 thoughts on “Kharkiv Zoo’s big cats and bears will be euthanised before Russian shelling gets them”

  1. Just got a email from a Four Paws who said they have delivered 20 tons of food for all the Kyiv zoo animals and food to many dog and cat shelters 7 days ago.

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    • Wow. How fantastic. There has been a fantastic response from the West by and large. Some countries support the invasion (23 countries do which is shocking). Well done Four Paws. Amazing.

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  2. Really horrific! I know they’re not going to make a special effort to evacuate the big cats, when so many people are also trapped, but I wish anyway that big cat specialists from the west could undertake such a mission.

    I remember that as a child in the 1960’s I saw a Disney movie, I believe on television, about a true incident from 1945 where U.S. General George Patton, who died in a car accident later in that year, personally intervened to rescue the trained Lipizzaner stallions from the oncoming Russian army. Of course, the operation doubled as a cover for evacuating Allied POWs from western Czechoslovakia before it was occupied by the Russian army (ostensibly our allies), which didn’t figure in Disney’s version. But this story of the Kharkiv Zoo’s big cats and their peril brought this memory up for me. It’s too bad that an analogous operation can’t be implemented to rescue all the people as well as the cats, an admittedly impractical and impossible idea.

    More generally on the present fiasco. I know NATO forces and soldiers can’t get directly involved, but at least the West could be supplying the Ukrainians with the weapons THEY want, tanks and aircraft,
    but the Pentagon and our “leaders” are still talking about being reluctant to “provoke” Putin! In Vietnam the Soviets supplied aircraft and anything else the communists wanted. It didn’t cause World War III. Putin has his hands full. It’s time we started giving Putin some reasons to worry about provoking US. We need Winston Spencer-Churchills, but unfortunately, we’re stuck with Neville Chamberlains, and Sir Oswald Mosleys.

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    • I agree with you on both counts. In a better world some sort of rescue mission would have been organised to take these captive animals away from this zoo to a safe place. But the West seems impotent almost. They can barely save the lives of humans never mind low priority zoo animals. And I agree that Putin, the bully, needs to be confronted with confidence.

      We need to arm Ukrainians much better than we are. Although it has to be said that Britain for one is supplying thousands upon thousands of armaments. These armaments are able to destroy tanks which is a major benefit in this war against the Russian invasion. And the US is funding $1 billion of armaments I believe.

      I’ve heard that Czechoslovakia is going to send in armoured vehicles and the British are sending in howitzers. The latter are designed to shell 15 miles away to remove the Russians who are shelling cities like Mariupol. In other words, there’s been a step change upwards in the supply of armaments by the European Union to support the Ukrainian forces.

      It’s one small stage then to supplying aircraft and tanks. In fact, I recall Czechoslovakia is indeed supplying tanks. They are Russian T-72 tanks which means the Ukrainian forces are already trained to drive them. I can see the West stepping up in their effort to beat Putin because of the atrocities that have been committed and well documented.

      There is much more we can do such as kicking Russia out of the UN Security Council. Thanks for your comment.

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  3. Oh how sad. And Russia has been shelling zoo’s, sanctuaries and pet shelters on purpose. I’ll never forget how they shelled the Cat man of Aleppo’s home killing several cats and a dog. The cat man claimed they knew him and where the shelter was and did it intentionally. Then Russia gassed him and killed nearly 180 cats! I’ve haven’t seen you post about him. Russian army has always been butchers!

    Reply

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