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War in Ukraine: Kiev zoo keepers light fires to keep their animals warm

origin 1It’s a constant challenge for Tony’s zookeepers to keep him warm. ©REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Tony the gorilla, like other African primates, hates the cold. It is a constant challenge for his keepers at the Kiev Zoo to keep him warm and comfortable despite the daily power outages.

Russia it bombed Ukraineof the electricity grid and heating infrastructure in recent months.

Although it has been a relatively mild winter so far, temperatures of around zero degrees Celsius during the day and -10 degrees Celsius at night are far too cold for Tony and others zoo animals from tropical countries.

“When the power goes out and the heating stops, we have to think of a solution for our primates so they don’t freeze. They need temperatures of at least 20°C,” says Valentyna Dykarova, primate specialist at Kiev Zoo.

“That’s why we set up a wood-burning oven here in the primate section… We turn the oven on every morning so it’s always 20 degrees,” he explains, as hulking 48-year-old Tony, the zoo only gorilla \- he looks impassive.

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Berlin Zoo has sent thousands of euros to help

Dykarova said primates become less active and stop eating when there is no light. As a temporary fix, they installed battery-powered lights.

Help is now also at hand from Germany, where a team a Berlin Zoo managed to raise €400,000 in contributions from benefactors to pay for generators and other assets.

“We are happy that we can now send generators and fodder purchased with these funds in Kiev,” says Christiane Reiss, spokeswoman for the Berlin Zoo.

The generators will also provide additional heating electricity at the zoo, whose generators are insufficient for his needs.

origin 1The staff of the Kiev zoo unload the generators to heat the animal enclosures, donated to them by the Berlin zoo.GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS

Reiss said she was “deeply touched” when Kiev Colleagues at the zoo told her during their telephone discussions about the delivery of the generators, “wait, we might lose connection now because we’re under fire (from missiles).”

“We are inside Germany) can’t imagine what it must be like to be in such a situation,” he said.

We must do everything possible to ensure that our animals do not realize that there is a war going on beyond their fences.

Kyiv Zoo director Kyrylo Trantin said German aid was very timely.

“We know February is going to be a tough month for us and we need to do everything we can to make sure our animals don’t realize there’s a war going on beyond their enclosures,” she says.

“We are deprived of electricity 4 to 12 hours a day. These generators mean our animals can live much better.”