Kuwait Ships Aid to Feed Iraq Zoo Animals
- Kuwait Ships Aid to Feed Iraq Zoo Animals
By PATRICK McDOWELL, Associated Press Writer
Published April 18, 2003 0418AP-IRAQ-FEEDING-
KUWAIT CITY (AP) - As the war in Iraq winds down, attention is turning to
one group of forgotten victims: the animals at Baghdad's zoo.
Weakened before the war by lack of food and medicine blamed on years of U.N.
sanctions, the animals' lives were endangered during the conflict by the
placement of an Iraqi gun battery on the zoo's grounds, opening it to
destruction by U.S. military attack.
The zookeepers fled, leaving the lions, bears, monkeys, camels and other
charges without food and water. Since Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled,
the zoo has been looted. U.S. troops have been feeding some animals from
Moved by their plight, Kuwait shipped seven tons of frozen meat, fruit,
vegetables and feed by truck to Iraq on Friday in an effort to save animals
that haven't yet died or escaped from their cages to roam the streets of
"This represents two to four weeks of food for the Baghdad zoo," said Jim
Fikes, an Army reservist who put together the shipment with the Humanitarian
Organizing Committee in Kuwait City, which handles connections between
charities and the U.S. military.
"It comes from a request that I got through the military chain," Fikes said.
"My understanding is that there's a serious shortage of food. It was
When zookeepers fled, animals were left inside cages with no food or water.
Looters stole birds and non-threatening mammals and opened the monkey cages,
setting them free to roam the city.
U.S. forces in Baghdad have described coming across the forgotten animals -
including weakened lions stumbling throughout the compound. They fed some of
them crackers, noodles and meat from their ration packs.
The troops slaughtered pigs penned at the zoo site and butchered a dead wolf
to feed the lions and tigers. But it couldn't go far - a lion consumes 18
pounds a day.
Running water has not been restored to the zoo, and soldiers and Iraqis have
trucked it in to the animals.
Consulting zookeepers in Kuwait about the animals' dietary needs, Fikes and
the Kuwaiti government rounded up sacks of apples, carrots, potatoes,
lettuce, grain, bales of hay and crates of frozen, boneless meat for
shipment to Baghdad.
A single truck, with a sign stating that the shipment was a gift from Kuwait
to the people of Iraq, left Kuwait City on Friday morning and was to pick up
a military convoy at the border for the daylong drive to the Iraqi capital.
A U.S. military veterinarian will accompany it.
Non-governmental organizations are inquiring about helping, Fikes said, but
Baghdad is not yet secure enough for them.
For now, the Kuwaiti shipment will be enough. Fikes expressed hope that as
Baghdad's markets reopen, fruit and vegetables can be purchased within the
city to keep the non-carnivores alive.
The creatures were vulnerable before the war. Sanctions imposed in 1991
after the Gulf War made specialized food and medicines difficult to import.
The worthless Iraqi currency meant entry fees could not cover operating
Iraq's invasion of southern neighbor Kuwait triggered the war 12 years ago.
Kuwait allowed U.S. and British troops to stage their recent invasion from
The Kuwaiti government has been at pains to let Iraqis know the war was not
against them, but against Saddam. Kuwait has been at the forefront of aid
shipments into Iraq, more willing to risk danger zones than many
"It's very important that this food gets up there," said Abdullah Onlanzi,
the Kuwaiti coordinator for the shipment. "We see this as being for Iraqi
kids. Zoos are mainly for kids. In a way, we're helping them as much as the
PLEASE HELP THE ANIMALS OF BAGHDAD
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