The little zoo of horrors

The Kiev zoo goes from a family favourite to a den of neglect and death
Alex Derry

What did Boy the elephant, Maya the camel and Theo the zebra have in common? All three beloved animals have died at the Kiev Zoo, a facility that went from being one of city’s favourite destinations to a place better known for animal neglect and death. The 100-year-old zoo was expelled in 2007 from the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria after a brown bear was traumatized when moved to a pen she had to share with a male Malayan sun bear. Svitlana Berzina was then the zoo’s director; during her tenure, about 250 animals died.

Some Kievans believe the animals are deliberately being neglected and, in some cases, illegally sold in order to expedite a real estate deal. Welfare groups are calling for the zoo to be closed and for the animals to be sent to more humane zoos around Europe. “The Kiev Zoo will never attain any basic standards, it’s so far removed from any zoo in Europe,” said John Ruane of Naturewatch, a British animal rights organization. “The conditions have been absolutely horrendous.”