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The Kiev Zoo in the Ukraine has seen dozens of otherwise healthy animals die in recent years. Animal welfare groups suggest that malnutrition, a lack of medical care and mistreatment are to blame for the widespread deaths.
The Kiev Zoo has been described as an unkempt warehouse for those with fur and feathers. Some animal advocates suspect that corruption is the main problem at the zoo which recently saw an elephant drop dead, perhaps from a poor died, Maya the camel died of a digestive illness that could have been prevented and Theo the zebra was killed after crashing into a metal fence trying to reach his female companions that he had been separated from.
Naturewatch, a British-based animal welfare group, is among the organizations calling for the 100-year-old zoo to be closed and its animals sent elsewhere in Europe. “The Kiev Zoo will never attain any basic standards, it’s so far removed from any zoo in Europe,” said John Ruane of Naturewatch. “The conditions have been absolutely horrendous and no matter how many more directors were appointed the situation still remained the same.”
New managers that took over last October have said that nearly half of the zoo’s animals either died or mysteriously disappeared over two years under their predecessors. A recent government audit found that thousands of dollars were misspent as animals were illegally sold and funds earmarked for their food and care disappeared. Ukrainian prosecutors have also opened an investigation.
Even with the management change, animals are still dying. The Kiev zoo was once a favorite tourist attraction for families but began to deteriorate after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Animals were kept in cramped, poorly lit and poorly heated enclosures, fed improperly and left unattended, according to watchdogs. The zoo then gained international notoriety in 2007 when it was expelled from the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria after the tragic death of a female bear.
Officials are having a hard time determining exactly how many animals died or disappeared under the previous management. The zoo now has 2,600 animals from 328 species. Oleksandr Mazurchak, deputy head of the Kiev city administration, said about 250 animals died due to “problems” during two years under Berzina. The government audit last year also found that 131 other animals were missing.
Tamara Tarnavska of the Kiev-based SOS animal rights group believes the zoo must be closed to protect its animals from further abuse. “The zoo is in such a condition that it’s no longer a zoo, it’s a concentration camp,” Tarnavska said. “When I look those animals in the eyes, I am ashamed to be a human being.”