A menagerie of lions, tigers, and bears have been left to die in their locked cages at an abandoned Armenian zoo. The animals are described as displaying all of the tell-tale signs of madness driven by a life of captivity. This includes swaying to and fro, pressing their heads against the concrete walls and making repetitive motions out of sheer boredom. On top of this, the animals were left without food or water.
The animals were bought on the whim of a billionaire who purchased them to show off to friends at jungle-themed parties, the Daily Mail reported. However, after suspected run-ins with local mobs, the oligarch has since skipped town, leaving his animals behind, and authorities refuse to claim responsibility for them.
They are now cared for by a penniless, older couple, Hovhamnes and Alvina Madoyan, who came across the deserted zoo when they were on a walk through their neighborhood.
“I lost my job. I had nothing, my wife and I were walking by the deserted zoo when we heard these terrible cries of animals in torment. We came in to see the lioness and her cub literally frothing at the mouths from lack of water. My wife and I can’t bear to see God’s creatures in pain. We fetched water from them and then organized some meat from a local butcher. That is how we scrape by, feeding them what we can muster. It is the same for the bears. We moved into an old shed near the lion enclosure to be near to them five months ago,” Hovhamnes told The Daily Mail.
Among the animals were a ragged bear looking on helplessly from the inside of his dismal habitation, an emaciated lion reaching up for scraps, and lion pressing her head against her concrete enclosure, driven to madness in captivity.
The elderly couple gathers whatever food they can for the day to keep the animals alive. Despite their efforts, the food they gather never seemed to be enough for the animals.
Luckily, after the story spread, a coalition of wildlife organizations stepped in to help. International Animal Rescue (IAR) brought the plight of these animals to the world’s attention with the story, and thanks to public outcry, the animals have already been moved to a zoo where they are being given veterinary care.
IAR, Born Free Foundation, and others are pooling financial resources and working together to find a rapid solution to get these animals to safety. Eventually, they hope these animals will be retired to sanctuaries, but their immediate health care is top priority. “We are already in talks to secure an enclosure in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, where the animals can be rehabilitated, treated and fed,” IAR said in a press release. You can help their cause by donating to the campaign here.