Kyiv zoo requests ‘humanitarian corridor’ to evacuate animals amid Ukraine war

A zoo near Kyiv has requested a humanitarian corridor to rescue animals amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Park XII Months zoo, located in the village of Demydiv 25km north of Kyiv, asked for assistance evacuating the animals or for volunteers to bring food for those that are difficult to transport.

Local news reports indicate that some of the animals have begun to die due to hunger and cold.

The owner of the zoo, Mykhailo Pinchuk, said in a video posted on Facebook that there is no electricity or gas in the park, and that the park’s diesel supply has run out.

In a post translated from Ukraine, he said frost-resistant animals in outdoor enclosures are dying of hunger, and other animals in need of heat are dying both due to hunger and cold.

According to the zoo’s website, it is home to a wide range of creatures, including arctic wolves, cheetahs, leopards, Bengal white tigers, as well as an “Island of Apes”, inhabited by a family of capuchins. There is also a petting zoo at the site, with domesticated animals such as ponies.

“We need green corridors to bring in diesel, heat, and feed them. We can’t take out rhinos and giraffes, big animals, we don’t even have medicine to put them to sleep. We need to negotiate green corridors,” Mr Pinchuk said.

This isn’t the only zoological park in Ukraine affected by shelling from the Russian forces.

On Thursday, another zoo in southern Ukraine appealed for help as it is reportedly running low on food and supplies for its animals, which include giraffes, hippos, and polar bears.

The zoo posted images on Facebook of what appears to be remnants from Russian shelling that have hit parts of their premises.

Human Rights Watch also reported on Thursday that Russian forces repeatedly fired cluster munition rockets into the city.

These rockets are explosive weapons that eject smaller rockets, and such attacks have reportedly killed nine people and injured several others. Observers say such munitions are inherently imprecise.

“Multiple residential areas in Mykolaiv were rocked by cluster munition attacks in the span of a week,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Every day we go to work, feed and clean the animals despite the howl of the air raid siren,” the zoo noted in the Facebook post.

“Seven of our employees went to the front to fight the invaders. If you want to help the zoo financially, we published the updated company details for providing assistance in dollars and euros,” it added.

People have reportedly been purchasing tickets to the zoo online, and are still able to book visits via their website.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has killed at least 816 civilians and injured another 1,333 as of Friday, according to the UN, although the true number is estimated to be far higher.

Activists say 109 children have been killed and 130 injured since Russian president Vladimir Putin commanded his troops to invade Ukraine on 24 February.

The conflict has internally displaced over 6.5 million people, the UN says.

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