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A blast-stressed elephant and an abandoned lemur: The war within Kyiv’s zoo

Mar 8, 2022

KYIV, Ukraine — Horace the Asian elephant is so terrified of explosions that he’s been put on sedatives. The zebras are being kept inside after they panicked at the sound of shelling and ran directly into a fence. And Maya the lemur is so overwhelmed that she abandoned her newborn baby this week — nearly killing him.

Zoos have often been collateral damage in war around the world. And war is now touching Kyiv’s zoo, next to a key military installation and possibly in the path of a Russian push into the capital.

Animals are increasingly exhibiting signs of stress. They cower from the air raid sirens and blasts that ring out throughout the day. Gunfire often can be heard at night.

Fearing the worst — and seeking shelter from attacks in their own neighborhoods — around 50 staff members have moved into the sprawling facility to care for the animals around-the-clock, bringing some 30 family members with them.

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