This is a sad one. In the sweltering heat of Libya, and with the staff having abandoned the Tripoli Zoo, the animals there are simply more “collateral damage” – and the most helpless of all since they have no way to fend for themselves.
CNN’s Nic Robertson paid a visit after being told by the authorities that there was nothing to see because the zoo was “under renovation” and there were no animals there. But when he found a way in, he found a miserable situation.
The only bright spot is that while Robertson was there, the zookeeper arrived and said that a few of the staff people have now returned and are doing what they can. According to CNN:
For seven days amid the turmoil of conflict in Tripoli, the animals got nothing. Now 10 of the 200-person staff have returned and are trying to feed all the animals.
The big cats get only half of what they need. And all the animals languish with one essential in very short supply.
“Water is these animals’ most pressing need,” Robertson said. “And it seems without help in these sweltering temperatures, all the animals here will continue to suffer.”
It’s a familiar tale of war. In the 2006 war in Lebanon between Israel and the Hezbollah, the Beirut Zoo was abandoned and animals left to starve.
When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the soldiers ransacked the zoo and started using the animals for target practice.
And when U.S. troops arrived in Afghanistan in 2001, the animals at the Kabul Zoo were in severe distress.
Marjan the lion at the zoo in Afghanistan when U.S. troops first arrived there.
When the situation is more stabilized in Libya, some of the larger international animal rescue organizations will be able to go in to help the animals.
But however you look at it, war is always a disaster for all the animals – the wildlife, the zoos, the dogs and cats, everything.
If we humans want to fight and kill each other over our differences, that’s our own business. But we have no right to drag the rest of creation into our petty squabbles.