By John Wenzel
The Denver Post
Denver Zoo on Wednesday launched an emergency fundraising drive to raise money for zoos in Ukraine that have been devastated by the country’s brutal, ongoing invasion by Russian forces.
“I’ve seen the reports that many of the zookeepers in Ukraine are sleeping at their zoos to care for their animals, but I’m sure they’re wondering where they’re going to get their next load of hay, vegetables and other supplies,” said Maura Davis, Denver Zoo’s assistant curator of pachyderms, in a press statement.
Supporters looking to donate can learn more and pledge money to the Emergency Wildlife Fund at denverzoo.org/wildlifeerfund.
Funds raised will support organizations and people working in Ukraine and bordering nations that provide food, transportation, veterinary care and evacuation for the animals, officials wrote in the statement.
That covers support for the zookeepers and others who continue to care for animals “under extremely dangerous and difficult conditions,” Denver Zoo said.
“We’ve all watched in horror as this crisis has unfolded in Ukraine, and our hearts go out to the Ukrainian people,” said Bert Vescolani, president and CEO of Denver Zoo and a council member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), in the statement. “Our zoo professional colleagues in Ukraine have inspired us with their courage and dedication as they work to care for the animals, and we must do what we can to support them as a member of the global zoo and wildlife conservation community.”
Denver Zoo leaders pledged to work closely with global zoo and aquarium associations to make sure the funds raised go toward the organizations, animals and staff most in need.
Ukraine zoo workers in recent days have pleaded for international help to transport their animals to safe locations outside of their country’s growing warzones. Thousands of animals are believed to have been trapped by the Russian invasion, according to the UK Independent, which cited local reports and estimates from Ukrainian zookeepers on March 7.