Lions are starving to death at Yemen’s national zoo in the capital Sanaa due in part to the on-going conflict, collapse of the local currency, inflation in food prices and medical care for the animals, reports Xinhua.
“Four lions have died over the past weeks due to severe food shortage and diseases,” Fouad Al-Harsh, who is in charge of taking care of the zoo, told the news agency, adding that “The high prices do not enable us to provide enough meat or medical care to help the remaining lions.”
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The decline in the number of visitors whose entrance fee would normally contribute to supporting the zoo is also a factor in the deteriorating conditions of the lions and other animals. One visitor, Mokhtar Al-Dhayani, however said: “Lions need more food and medical care.”
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Another visitor Imad Hajib meanwhile said: “The situations are difficult and we hope the war could immediately end.”
The zoo was established in 1999 and has about 1,159 animals, including 31 lions, two Arabian leopards, four ostriches, four hyenas, and numerous other animals such as wolves, hawks, crocodiles and monkeys.
A keeper is jumped over by a lioness from the pride of Frans, a lion previously owned by Yemen's ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh at the Sanaa Zoo, Yemen January 20, 2020. Picture taken January 20, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi https://t.co/SeJO4TdNoJ pic.twitter.com/xvLcJUS1ek
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There are only two zoos in Yemen. The other one is located in Taiz province and suffers the same difficulties as the one in the capital. Reuters reported in 2016 that staff in the Taiz zoo had not been paid in months and had continued to work out of a love for the animals.
Speaking of the current dire situation, Al-Harsh warned: “If the war and blockade imposed on Yemen continue in the coming years, the zoo in Sanaa will lose most of its animals due to the lack of medicines, vaccines and food.”
Sanaa has been under the control of the Houthi movement since it took over the city in 2014 and has been under the administration of the National Salvation Government which was formed two years ago by the Houthis and the General People’s Congress party. The ousting of the President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi prompted the Saudi-led coalition to militarily intervene in the country, which has led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.