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Old 04-25-2003, 03:47 PM   #16
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Very sad...
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Old 04-27-2003, 10:09 PM   #17
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It is so sad...those poor, poor animals.

Death stalks inhabitants at Baghdad's zoo


OLIVIA WARD

The good news is that Mendouh, my bad-tempered tiger, has survived the war in Iraq. Mendouh's plight, as one of many animals who lacked proper food and medicine in the Baghdad zoo under economic sanctions, attracted the attention of a number of readers three years ago, when I wrote of my attempts to bring him badly-needed vaccine.

They included a class of Toronto students, who saved up money to help pay for his care, and kept him in vitamins for months.

With the daily human toll in Iraq during the war, I had little time to think of Mendouh's fate.

But to my delight and consternation yesterday, I saw him on a fleeting television news clip, lying on the floor of his cage, alive but apparently too weak to get up and roar at the reporter, as he did at me on my last visit.

His obvious debilitation is the bad news.

But worse is that Dr Hisham Mohammed Hussein, the zoo's weary chief veterinarian, was right when he warned that most of his other exotic animals, once the core of a collection envied throughout the Arab world, would not be able to survive more warfare after years of economic sanctions.

Mendouh, an enormous set of teeth around which a tiger was arranged - and his next door cage neighbor Malouh - were Hussein's pride and joy when I visited the zoo at the end of the last American-led bombing of Baghdad in 1998.

In return for an unsanctioned interview, Hussein made me promise that I would bring some vaccine for the two giant beasts on my next trip to Iraq, to ward off a deadly flu-like virus that annually attacked his malnourished charges.

Both tigers had lost their mates to treatable diseases that Hussein wasn't equipped to cure, and the vet was determined not to lose them. Like Iraq's human residents, its zoo population had suffered a sharp decline in medical care and quality of life since the Gulf War, and ongoing sanctions.

The plunge of the zoo's fortunes was dramatic.

During the first decades of Ba'ath Party rule, in the 1970s and 80s, the socialist government was anxious to provide public entertainment for Iraqis. They were also eager to take the scientific lead in the Mideast, and collecting animals from Africa, Asia and the Arab countries was part of a campaign to boost education as well as recreation.

The Baghdad zoo was then a lush, sprawling oasis shaded by rows of palm trees, its grass kept green by irrigation despite the harsh desert climate. With an adequate budget, the zoo was able to attract a skilled staff and keep the animals well fed, healthy and clean.

But the Gulf War bombs shattered their security, and Hussein found himself treating unaccustomed emotional as well as physical trauma. Although the zoo received no direct hits, the nightly explosions terrified the animals.

Some of the monkeys, trying to escape by climbing high in their cages, fell and broke bones. Large animals lost their appetites and refused food. Exotic birds died of fright.

After the war, the remaining animals survived on a subsistence diet that mirrored those of the Iraqi people. For both, nourishing fruit, vegetables and protein were mostly beyond their reach.

Then came the 1998 Operation Desert Fox, a short bombing campaign aimed at punishing Saddam Hussein for failing to co-operate with U.N. weapons inspectors. That too took its toll on the zoo animals.

But as with humans, the worst long-term effect was from sanctions. Staff members, including Hussein, did their best to care for the animals, sometimes spending their own scant salaries to buy them food and medicine.

Melouh, Mendouh's companion, died a year after I delivered the vaccine, of the virus the veterinarian feared. By 2000, 80 per cent of the zoo's wild animals were dead.

Now luck has run out for all of them. Like most of Baghdad, the zoo has no food, water or electricity. And according to the television reporter who surveyed the scene with dismay, there are few animals left to worry about.

The farm animals zookeepers increasingly used to fill empty cages had been looted, possibly for food. And the exotic animals, as Hussein predicted, may have died of "shock and awe," not realizing they were about to be "liberated."

Among them was a gift of Saddam's brutal younger son, Uday: a rare ocelot that threw itself frenetically at the walls of its cage after the Desert Fox bombing.

Uday was said to have later presented the zoo with some castoff lions from his home collection.

U.S. troops yesterday arrived with fresh food and water for the starving zoo survivors, among them, the lions and Mendouh. But a glance at the distraught face of the zookeeper made it clear that it may be too little and too late.
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Old 04-27-2003, 10:25 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mrs. Edge
Although the zoo received no direct hits, the nightly explosions terrified the animals.

Some of the monkeys, trying to escape by climbing high in their cages, fell and broke bones. Large animals lost their appetites and refused food. Exotic birds died of fright.


I never even thought about them having this kind of reaction but it definitely makes sense

Quote:
U.S. troops yesterday arrived with fresh food and water for the starving zoo survivors, among them, the lions and Mendouh. But a glance at the distraught face of the zookeeper made it clear that it may be too little and too late.
I really hope it's not too late - when their body fat gets low enough, they can hit a point of no return where they will absolutely die, even if you get food to them before they do die
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Old 04-28-2003, 06:36 PM   #19
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I'm sad that this had to happen to these animals.
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