A zoo in Kharviv, Ukraine says it may have to to euthanize some animals after Russian shelling destroyed enclosures. Feldman Ecopark is trying to relocate animals, but if that option fails, some animals, like lions and tigers, will have to be put to sleep.
“Feldman Ecopark doesn’t exist anymore,” the zoo’s founder Alexander Feldman said in a video statement. The zoo was subjected to a bombardment that basically destroyed it, he said in the video, which was posted on Facebook.
Animal enclosures were badly damaged, and Feldman warned some animals could enter the streets. While the bears were in bad condition “by sheer miracle, tigers and lions are alive,” he said.
“Today we are deciding … we have time ’till evening, whether to put them all down or transport them somewhere else,” Feldman said. The zoo’s team was working in Chutovo, trying to find a way to save the animals, he said. “Maybe we will save baby jaguars, baby panthers, but all adult animals will probably be liquidated,” Feldman said.
In the caption of the video, the zoo said its specialists were considering the possibility of equipping some animals with temporary housing in Chutovo, in the Poltava region of Ukraine. “Failing that, the only option left to us is to put the predators to sleep. It is unimaginably painful to talk about this, but the main priority now is the lives of people,” the caption reads.
In another statement on the Feldman Ecopark website, the zoo said the lions nearly ended up outside the enclosure after a recent round of shelling. “We emphasize that the euthanasia of animals is an extreme measure, which we very much hope will not come to,” the statement reads. “Now we are negotiating with a large number of people and organizations, in particular, with those who can accept our animals in Ukraine and abroad.”
Still, there is an issue of how to move the large animals. “Such an operation requires the presence of special transport and the participation of a fairly large number of people. Which with a high degree of probability will attract the attention of the enemy, who, as a rule, responds to activity on the territory of the Ecopark with shelling,” the statement reads.
CBS News has reached out to Feldman Ecopark for comment and is awaiting response.
On March 4, about two weeks after Russia began its invasion, the zoo said staff were able to visit chimpanzees and orangutans for the first time since the war began. The monkeys had been sheltered by the Kharkov Zoo.
On Tuesday, the zoo was able to move Ukraine’s only family of tapirs – a herbivorous animal with a short trunk – and some other exotic animals from Kharkiv. They are at a temporary home in the Poltava region, according to Reuters.