Ukraine Zoo Says it May Have to Euthanize Animals After Russian Shelling Damages Enclosures

Feldman Ecopark Founder Alexander Feldman said the damaged zoo is prepared to euthanize animals if the residents cannot be transported to safer locations

lions at Feldman Ecopark in Ukraine
Photo: Feldman Ecopark/Facebook

Feldman Ecopark, a zoo in Kharviv, Ukraine, said it might have to euthanize several of its animals due to damage to the park caused by Russia's attacks on Ukraine.

According to CBS News, Russian shelling in Kharviv — which occurred as Russia's invasion of Ukraine entered its second month — destroyed enclosures at the zoo.

Feldman Ecopark is working to move the animals still living at the zoo to safe locations but said it is planning to euthanize the remaining animals if new homes and transport for the animals aren't found, the news outlet added.

On April 5, the zoo's founder, Alexander Feldman, shared a statement on the current state of the zoo in which he acknowledged Feldman Ecopark "doesn't exist anymore," because of the damaged it has sustained. Feldman added in the statement that several large predators "miraculously" survived the shellings but will be put to sleep without transport and temporary housing. According to Feldman's statement, the zoo is considering this "unimaginably painful" decision because there is concern that the animals will escape into Kharviv if the enclosures take more damage.

In a separate April 5 statement, the zoo shared that moving large predators like the tigers, lions, and bears left at the zoo is difficult because a "special transport" is needed, which requires "the participation of a fairly large number of people." The zoo added in the same statement that "a large number of people and organizations" had reached out, which offered hope for the animals.

By April 6, the zoo had several positive updates to share. "The difficult situation we have, which seemed almost hopeless, has caused an incredible response in Ukraine and abroad!" read one of the April 6 updates.

"Transport is already coming to us, the necessary cages are coming, people are coming who are not afraid to take animals out of the shelled zone, our pets are ready to receive in many places," the statement added.

In subsequent April 6 updates, the zoo shared that several lions, a jaguar, a panther, and a few cranes were safely transported out of the damaged facility to their new temporary homes.

"Transporting lions is not an easy task. Especially when animals have been stressed from shelling for over a month and in general because their calm and measured life has changed dramatically. But we managed it, the main thing is that we safely left the fire zone and no people or animals were hurt," the zoo wrote in one statement about the ongoing efforts to save the animals.

In the same statement, the zoo added that "There are still many animals on the territory of the Ecopark." Those who are interested in financially supporting the evacuation of Feldman Ecopark's animals can donate here, according to the zoo.

The ongoing war in Ukraine has impacted other zoo animals, including an adult lion and wolf who had to be moved to a zoo in Romania for their safety.

Last month, a lion named Simba and a wolf named Akyla were evacuated from a zoo in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, to another facility in Radauti, Romania, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Simba and Akyla were fully awake for the four-day journey between countries due to a lack of available animal tranquilizers in Ukraine, the outlet said.

Akyla the wolf, Simba the lion
Eldar Emric/AP/Shutterstock (2)

Russia launched its large-scale attack on Ukraine on Feb. 24 — the first major land conflict in Europe in decades.

Details of the fighting change by the day, but hundreds of civilians have already been reported dead or wounded, including children. More than 3 million Ukrainians have also fled, the United Nations says.

The invasion, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has drawn condemnation around the world and increasingly severe economic sanctions against Russia.

With NATO forces massing in the region around Ukraine, various countries have also pledged aid or military support to the resistance.

Putin, 69, insists Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the best security interests of his country. Zelenskyy, 44, vowed not to bend.

"Nobody is going to break us, we're strong, we're Ukrainians," he told the European Union in a speech in the early days of the fighting, adding, "Life will win over death. And light will win over darkness."

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

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