Amidst the sound of nearby fighting, 280 animals are hungry in Yemen’s Taiz Zoo. Lions, leopards and baboons are among those in urgent need as this 2 year civil war wages on.
Taiz has witnessed fierce clashes between Houthi rebels and forces loyal to exiled president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Airstrikes by Saudi-led coalition aircraft in support of Hadi have also battered the city.
“Before the war, the animals used to eat,” says zookeeper and sub-manager Showky al-Hajj. “Everything was great until the war came in the beginning of 2015.”
Because of the war, all supply lines were halted and the animals stopped receiving food. The zoo staff was no longer paid. The crisis escalated quickly and some animals have starved to death. Two fledgling rescue groups are trying to help. Harmony Fund has been asked to provide emergency aid.
Some species at the zoo are endangered, including 28 Arabian leopards which could number as few as 45 in the wild. The zoo also has 20 Barbary lions thought to be descended from the ones gifted to Yemen by Ethiopia in 1953. Today Barbary lions are extinct in the wild.
Our Emergency Aid Plan
- FOOD: We’d like to make a donation of food for the animals.
- MOVE BABOONS TO SAFETY IN THE TREES: The baboons are fighting and breeding. We’d like to move the females and their offspring to a new enclosure in a secure, treed area of a separate zoo that is far from the battle-front.
- SAFETY FOR LIONS & LEOPARDS: Prides of these highly endangered big cats will be relocated to a zoo far from the battle-front. They will have spacious, safe enclosures and ample food supply. The pregnant lioness needs to have a safe area alone as the lions have eaten her newborn cubs previously.
Most would agree that zoos are not an ideal place for animals. And although these are imperfect solutions to the current crisis, they are the best available to us in the midst of this highly complex situation. Despite best efforts, rescuers are not permitted to simply move all the animals to sanctuaries abroad at this time.
Harmony Fund would like to help provide food and to move many of the baboons, lions and leopards to new enclosures elsewhere (relocation for these animals will be allowed).
Safe and secure donations can be made online to the Harmony Fund. We are an esteemed international animal rescue charity, based in the USA.
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