It's not just humans who are being made to suffer in the Russia-Ukraine war. Animals have also been bearing the brunt of the war initiated by Vladimir Putin. Ukrainian authorities have been trying to rescue animals kept in zoos, but have so far not been successful.

Even though they have been able to send six lions, six tigers, two caracals, and an African wild dog to safety in Poland, dozens of others have been left behind.

Around 4,000 animals are still stuck at Kyiv Zoo, with the keepers claiming that they will be able to feed animals only for the next 10 days due to depleted resources.

Natalia Popova, who looks after the sanctuary, has had to pick and choose which animals will be able to survive the journey from Ukraine to Poland.

"They had to turn back many times, because all the roads were blown up, full of holes, impossible to pass with such cargo, which is why it took so long," said Malgorzata Chodyla. But here they are, and we just can't believe it."

The animals may also be sent to a Belgian sanctuary that has offered to take the lions and the African wild dog, she added. The ones remaining at the zoo include elephants, camels, and Ukraine's only gorilla.

The zookeepers have had to sedate animals like elephants to help them stay calm during bombings and explosions, while some of the animals have been moved to underground shelters.

"Animals are terrified by the loud sounds of explosions, but our vets are constantly monitoring their condition," they said.

Update: IFAW has partnered with the Poznań Zoo in Poland to provide temporary shelter & care for wildlife rescued from the conflict in Ukraine. Thank you to the zoo's incredible team & those who risked their lives transporting these animals to safety:

— ifaw (@ifawglobal) March 5, 2022

A truck carrying six lions, six tigers, two caracals and an African wild dog from a sanctuary east of Ukraine's Kyiv reached Poland after a two-day drive to escape the Russian invasion, a Polish zoo official said 1/4

— Reuters (@Reuters) March 3, 2022

"Zoo staff — zookeepers, veterinarians, engineers and more — are on site 24/7. All animals are fed and well cared for. There is light, heat and water," read a Facebook post by the zoo authorities.

A sanctuary in Lviv earlier used to shelter wild animals and strays, it has now started taking in pets from people fleeing war in Ukraine, according to a report in The

"We're going to try to take as many animals as we can out, back to Latvia, back to Europe, back to safety," said a volunteer at the Home for Rescued Animals in Lviv. The Feldman Ecopark Zoo in eastern Ukraine's Kharkiv has said that several of its animals have sustained injuries while some have been killed in the fighting.

New York Zoo Tiger
Photo: Wildlife Conservation Society / JULIE LARSEN MAHER