Magazine article New Internationalist

Starving Arc: Zoo Animals' Distress in Baghdad

Magazine article New Internationalist

Starving Arc: Zoo Animals' Distress in Baghdad

Article excerpt

THE director of Baghdad's famous zoo, Dr Ardil Salman Musa, is a man with a slowly breaking heart.

Before the UN blockade we imported specialist food from the UK, the US and Russia and we had expert advice from London Zoo,' he tells me. 'Now we have very little food and medical problems too are insurmountable, with no veterinary medicines, vaccinations, antibiotics, stun - guns or tranquilizers.'

The lioness has died from a viral infection. Her mate pines in his spacious den amid the palm groves. He emits echoing roars of distress from the fever and pneumonia he has suffered for the last six months -- and, says Dr Musa, from his grief. The tormented, grieving lion seems doomed.

In July the Bengal tiger had three cubs. Two survive, hanging on despite malnourishment. Another female died. 'When we treated her,' says Dr Musa with weary understatement, 'I had to hang on to her tail, whilst my colleague quickly injected her -- this is a very dangerous practice.'

An engaging honey - coloured bear lies in a foetal position, paws cupping soulful eyes. It has been lying thus for two years, says Dr Musa, refusing to venture into the sun. …

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