Ukraine war: Kharkiv zoo killed after heavy shelling

The Feldman Ecopark in Kharkiv was a proud zoo until the beginning of the war: On its website, the operators describe it as a “multifaceted charity project” that combines “animal care, therapy for children with special needs” and science and research. A few weeks after the first shelling by the Russian army, Ecopark threatens to become the saddest zoo in the world.

Due to the ongoing shelling of Kharkiv, the zoo grounds have been so badly damaged that many animals will probably have to be euthanized!

The enclosures and the entire infrastructure were hit by artillery and air force, the zoo’s founder, Alexander Feldman, said in a video message published on social media on Tuesday. There is no way to transport the animals away and save them.

Feldman called it a “miracle” that tigers, lions and bears have survived so far. However, their cages threatened to collapse at any moment and the predators would break out with them.

Feldman went on to say, “Maybe we can save the small jaguars and panthers, but we’ll probably have to kill all the adult animals.” The park is a 140-hectare landscape park in eastern Ukraine, established in 2013. Around 2000 animals are housed in the park.

A dead ostrich in YasnohorodkaPhoto: Vadim Ghirda/AP

Helpers evacuate a weakened pony

Helpers evacuate a weakened ponyPhoto: Vadim Ghirda/AP

There are similar horror reports from other zoos and farms in Ukraine: Several animals, including camels and ostriches, are said to have starved to death on an ostrich farm in Yasnogorodka (near Kyiv). Others were eaten by stray dogs.

Again and again there are reports of evacuations of large wild animals from the war zone. Among other things, an animal welfare organization brought “severely traumatized” and malnourished lions and tigers via Poland and Germany to the Netherlands, where they are now to be fed until they can be brought to a reserve in South Africa.

But there is no hope for the animals at Feldman Ecopark. The damage to the site and the enclosures is too great. owner Alexander Feldman sadly: “There is no Ecopark anymore.”

Again heavy shelling in the night

The Kharkiv region, which lies directly on the Russian border, was one of the first Russian targets and has been under heavy shelling since the beginning of the war. The battles for Ukraine’s second-largest city were fought with particular severity and the use of air force and artillery. Large parts of the city have been devastated, and civilians have died.

Kharkiv is one of the hardest hit cities.  Heavy shelling broke out again during the night.  Residential areas were hit again

Kharkiv is one of the hardest hit cities. Heavy shelling broke out again during the night. Residential areas were hit againPhoto: David Young

There were renewed attacks on Wednesday night. There were 27 attacks with different weapons, the governor of the region of the same name, Oleh Synyehubov, wrote on Telegram on Wednesday. “The enemy wants to demoralize us and continues to unleash chaotic strikes on civilian infrastructure.”

Synyehubov also announced that fighting was going on near the town of Izyum. “Our forces are holding the positions. (…) The Russians try to break through, but they fail and suffer heavy casualties instead.”

The Ukrainian General Staff estimates that around 18,600 Russian soldiers have been killed since the invasion began. The information has not been independently verified. Russia had given the last figure of 1,351 soldiers killed.


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