Lonely animals born into captivity in a Ukrainian zoo miss visitors — not to mention mangoes, pineapples and good cuts of meat.
The zoo in Demydiv, 25 miles from Kiev, is almost out of money and can barely cover the bills it takes to care for the animals and the facility, Reuters reported.
It’s been closed to the public since March, when Ukraine imposed a national lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Zookeeper Mykhailo Pinchuk said the orangutans cry in their cages.
“Even hoofed animals … rush to me when I am walking past their enclosures. They stretch their necks through the holes in the fence to see who is coming, and to ask you to come closer and give them some food,” he said.
“They don’t understand what is going on, as the situation has changed. They were fine with the previous situation, they enjoyed people’s company.”
Because of dwindling funds, dozens of big cats are being fed with chicken, instead of more expensive pork or beef, and apples have replaced mangoes and pineapples for the monkeys.
Monkeys, lions and tigers have been surprised by the changes, and one of the leopards has visibly lost weight, zookeepers say.
“We are ashamed, and they are sad,” Pinchuk, head of Ukraine’s largest private zoo, told AFP.
Pinchuk urged people to donate to support the zoo, which is home to 400 animals including a seal, a hippopotamus and giraffes. The zoo has cut 50 of 70 staff members and those remaining are on a minimum salary, he said.