In a small, rubble-strewn zoo located in Mosul, Iraq, two animals have been surviving on their own for around four months. The animals in question are one lion and one bear, both captives of the Mosul Zoo. According to the operator of Mosul Eye, a Facebook page set up to tell the world what’s happening in Mosul, the zoo was overtaken by ISIS back in November. In a destructive battle that resulted in the deaths of nearly 2,000 Iraqi troops, eastern Mosul was liberated from the hands of ISIS in January, allowing for Mosul Eye to show the world the two animals that were left behind.
One lion and one bear are the only captive animals of Mosul Zoo who survived the eastern city’s ISIS occupation. The other zoo animals were either sold, escaped, or perished.
When ISIS was driven out of the public park, which they had turned into a military base, anonymous anti-ISIS blogger Mosul Eye was able to capture photos of the zoo’s only remaining animals in a cry for help.
Some residents banded together to help the lion and the bear. One local told VOA News, “someone who was selling pet birds had to sacrifice some of them to feed the lion. Others offered their own bread or collected tree leaves for the bear.”
The Kurdistan Organization for Animal Rights group also stepped in, passing through five security checkpoints in order to bring the starving animals food and water.
Mosul Eye told CNN “When you learn to care for the animals and be kind to them, then you will know the value of human life. In this life, everything is connected. There’s no part that is worthless.”
Now that ISIS has been driven out of the eastern part of the city, residents are slowly returning back. Mosul Eye told CNN that youth organizations are working hard to restore the city to its former beauty. In the aftermath of the ISIS occupation, many residents were left to struggle to find enough food and water for their own families. It is understandable that not every resident is able to help the captive lion and bear survive.
While the lion and the bear should not have been captive in the first place, the story of residents and a rescue group going above and beyond to help the two in the wake of death and destruction gives us hope for the rest of the city. According to Sulaiman, leader of the Kurdistan Organisation for Animal Rights, the animals will be transferred to regional capital in Irbil as soon as possible. Until then, we have nothing but appreciation for those who have helped these animals, even though they themselves are struggling. Mosul Eye hopes that the efforts to care for the lion and the bear will bring humanity back to the city. We think it’s already happening.
All image source: Kurdistan Organization for Animal Rights Protection/Facebook