Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, who are facing a growing military assault by Russian forces. During the turmoil, over one million people have fled the country.
However, many people have remained in the war-torn country, as have countless animals. Because so many of these animals have been left in dangerous region, evacuating them across the border can be difficult.
However, one group of animals from a rescue shelter made it to safety after fleeing to Poland after their region was heavily bombed.
Natalia Popova, who operates a rescue sanctuary in Kyiv, had to make a difficult, last-minute choice to remove the animals as the conflict in the city increased.
As Russian soldiers opened fire on Kyiv, she knew it was a life or death situation: she believed her beloved animals would “either die from bombs or malnutrition” if they were left in the city, according to The Independent.
It wasn’t a simple task: evacuating animals across the border and finding a suitable sanctuary is never easy, and Popova’s animals comprised six lions and six tigers.
Fortunately, she was able to work out a deal: the Poznan Zoo in western Poland agreed to take the animals in.
The animals were pushed out of Kyiv, but the rescuers faced a perilous journey ahead of them: they had to negotiate streets that had recently been bombed.
“They had to go around a long distance to escape Zhytomyr and other bombardment zones,” Malgorzata Chodyla, a spokesperson for the Poznan Zoo, told Reuters.
“They had to turn back several times since all of the roads had been blown up and were full with holes, making it hard to pass with such cargo, which is why it took so long,” says the narrator.
Despite the obstacles, the animals made it to Poland, where they will be safe from slaughter. “They’ve arrived, and we can’t believe our eyes,” Chodyla added.
All of the animals made it to the Poznan Zoo alive and well, according to the zoo’s Facebook page.
“Six lions, six tigers, lyakon, and two caracals amazingly survived transport through a territory destroyed by conflict and fire,” they said, adding that the animals were “a symbol of preserving lives, whose worth is great, especially while we see war crimes against people and animals in Ukraine.”
The animals are “coping with the stress of war” in their own unique ways, according to the zoo, with some relaxing and others “testing the durability of the beds and toys.” It may take some getting used to for these poor animals, but it’s comforting to know they’re all safe and out of harm’s way.
However, not all animals in Ukraine have been evacuated. The animals of the Kyiv Zoo are still in the war-torn capital, receiving round-the-clock care from staff members who have stayed behind, but are allegedly afraid of the bombings and sirens that can be heard outside.
We can only hope that the war will finish soon and that the Ukrainian people (and animals) will be able to live in peace once more.
We’re relieved to see that these animals arrived at their shelter in good health. Thank you to everyone who assisted in their rescue.
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