A large number of animals are stranded without adequate food and care in a zoo in southern Yemen due to the country’s civil war.
Pictures have surfaced showing a leopard resorting to cannibalism to survive, and it is believed that 17 big cats have already died, Daily Mail reported.
“Arabian leopards are an endangered species and they are starving to the extent that one male has started eating the corpse of his female companion,” Chantal Jonkergouw from SOS Zoo and Bear Rescue told Daily Mail.
Many of the animals have lost fur on their bodies from rubbing up against the cages.
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“One of the leopards is pregnant and in the past five months, 11 lions and six leopards have already died,” she added.
On average, each leopard needs between 4 and 9 pounds of meat per day, while the lions require 9 to 12 pounds. In total, the animals at Taiz zoo need more than 1,300 gallons of water.
“As we are taking stock of all the animals at the zoo and capture this in a detailed list with the numbers per species, the daily food and water need as well as the medical needs, we currently have a massive 281 animals to be in the zoo,” Jonkergouw told the Mail.
Lions and leopards are not the only creatures impacted.
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“On top of the felines, we also have lynx, hyenas, the endangered oryx, snakes, crocodiles, baboons, owls, parrots, emus, falcons, buzzards or vultures,” she said.
Jonkergouw and her organization are trying to raise funds to save the animals, but it is proving difficult to get the necessary donations.
“It is heartbreaking to see that the animals of Taiz zoo are becoming the victims of human conflict. The war in Yemen is therefore not only a human tragedy,” Jonkergouw said.
The war’s impact on Yemen’s human population continues to grow. Since March of last year, a Saudi Arabian-led coalition has been carrying out military operations against Houthi rebels in the country.
An estimated 6,000 civilians - including 700 children - have been killed since the intervention began, according to United Nations figures reported by RT. Around 2.7 million people have been compelled to flee their homes, and 7.6 million are severely food insecure.
The UN is preparing to launch a $1.8 billion fundraising drive to provide essential humanitarian aid to Yemen’s population.