Zoo animals starve in Yemen city shattered by war

Eleven lions and six leopards have died.

Zoo animals starve in Yemen city shattered by war
(Image for representational purposes only)

Dubai: Fighting, bombing and a blockade by militiamen of food and water that have killed hundreds of people in the southwestern Yemeni city of Taiz have not spared the animals of the local zoo.

There are some 280 animals in the zoo ─ 20 lions including 2 cubs, 26 Arabian leopards as well as Arabian deer, monkeys, porcupines, lynx, and eagles ─ have not been spared the trauma of war.

Eleven lions and six leopards have died. Those which survive pace in anguish in their cages and animals are at turns sullen and anxious.

Earlier this month, zoo workers posted pictures to social media posing in front of the stricken animals with signs reading, "SOS Taiz zoo, animals are starving."

The appeal paid off and the scenes stirred hearts a world away in Malmo, Sweden, where bank worker and animal lover Chantal Jonkergouw helped start an online fundraising campaign to provide food and medicine for the crestfallen critters.

Almost $33,000 was raised by the effort on generosity.com in less than two weeks and has already been put to use in paying staff, funding surgery on the lion's open wounds and feeding the big cats ─ several donkeys a day.

"It touches me anytime I see animals caged, exploited or starving," Jonkergouw told Reuters by telephone.