Ukraine zookeeper dodging Russian shelling to save animals pleads for international help

A zoo in southern Ukraine is appealing for help amid the Russian invasion.

Mykolayiv Zoo is reportedly running low on food and supplies for its animals, which include giraffes, hippos and polar bears, as the city is attacked by Russian forces.

The zoo’s director, Volodymyr Topchyi, asked people to consider purchasing e-tickets to the zoo to keep them supported throughout the war.

On Facebook, the zoo posted images of what appears to be remnants from Russian shelling that have hit parts of their premises.In a post translated from Ukrainian, the zoo said they’re in “wartime mode”.

“Every day we go to work, feed and clean the animals despite the howl of the air raid siren,” they said.

“Seven of our employees went to the front to fight the invaders. If you want to help the zoo financially, we published the updated company details for providing assistance in dollars and euros.”

Despite the zoo being shut to visitors, people have been purchasing tickets and are still able to do so via their website.

The Ukraine’s ministry of foreign affairs also asked people on Twitter to consider buying a ticket.

On Thursday, the zoo also shared that they had received humanitarian donations of food and medical supplies from various zoos across Europe.

They said that zoos in Prague, Warsaw and Tallinn donated more than a ton of supplies, including dry food for its various animals and veterinary drugs.

The densely-populated city of Mykolayiv has been hit multiple times by Russian shelling throughout the war.

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch reported that Russian forces repeatedly fired cluster munition rockets - an explosive weapon that ejects smaller rockets - into the city during separate attacks, killing nine people and injuring multiple others.

A  residential building in Mykolayiv was damaged by shelling on 7 March amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (REUTERS)
A residential building in Mykolayiv was damaged by shelling on 7 March amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (REUTERS)

“Multiple residential areas in Mykolaiv were rocked by cluster munition attacks in the span of a week,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Russian forces should stop using cluster munitions and end these clearly indiscriminate attacks.”

Cluster rockets are subject to an international ban because of the widespread and indiscriminate fatal uses and danger they cause to civilians.