Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Sarajevo Zoo

When thinking of the war time in Sarajevo, one may not consider that there were more than humans affected by it. The siege of Sarajevo devastated the Sarajevo zoo. It was on the front line and most of its animals either starved to death or fell victim to artillery or even sniper fire. The last animal, a female black bear, died at the end of 1992.

This was all happening before I returned to Sarajevo, so I don't remember all the details, except hearing from my mom's letters that almost all the animals have died. I found that this sad story was reported by The New York Times and here is just a part of it:
"The scene in the animal house is wrenching. A putrid odor pervades the concrete building, and cage after cage is littered with the carcasses of lions, tigers, leopards and pumas. From the skeletal remains of some and the whole carcasses of others, it is clear that some died sooner than others, and that their surviving mates fed on the bodies before they, too, succumbed to hunger."

The zoo reopened in 1997 after the area had been cleared of landmines and unexploded mortar shells. Unfortunately, it is facing another crisis as the city cannot afford to look after animals donated by zoos across Europe.

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