The political turmoil in Ukraine is not only taking a significant toll on the people in the country, but it’s now also impacting its animals. News recently emerged from the troubled nation that animals in a zoo located in Kharkiv, Ukraine had been left to die of starvation, because the government started diverting funds from the facility in January.

“Our animals are not fighting for power, they do not share anyone’s political views, they just want to live,” the zoo said in a statement on its website on March 6, 2014. “Without emergency measures, our completely innocent animals will start dying.”

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Locals immediately responded to the plea, donating thousands of dollars, as well as food supplies to the zoo.

Katherine, a 31-year-old American expat (and blogger)  in Kharko, who moved to the Ukraine from Alaska, set up a Facebook page to document the response and co-ordinate efforts to keep the animals safe.

According to an update on the Facebook page on March 8, 2014, the animals are doing okay for now. “We just got back from the zoo – literally the entire city had brought bags and bags of food to donate: cabbage, bread, carrots, beets, greens, you name it! The zoo staff was using tractors to haul the food around. We spoke to the zoo director and she said they’d also received some cash donations,” the page announced.

In fact, the zoo has received so much food from the local community that they could barely manage to shelve and count them. In addition, the zoo received around $10,000 USD in monetary donations, and large numbers of locals have been flocking to the zoo since the announcement, which has resulted in long lines (almost rarely seen at the zoo).

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“What the zoo needs is a more steady stream of visitors to keep it running, keep the animals fed and healthy, and make needed updates. The zoo is currently very limited in how they can accept donations (via a transfer to a Belgian bank and then a second transfer to Ukraine),” said Katherine, who’s managing the Kharkiv Zoo Friends Facebook Page, to OGP.

The zoo is still exploring options, including setting up a PayPal account or a crowdfunding campaign so they can also receive much-needed assistance from abroad,  for purchasing food in the future or money to help upgrade the zoo itself (which is almost 120 years old).

While we’re no fans of captivity, we’re glad that the animals are safe and that the local community responded en masse to help the animals, despite all the turmoil in the Ukraine. Check out photos taken at the zoo over the weekend below (all courtesy of Katherine at the blog 8 Months in Ukraine).

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