Animals at the Moscow Zoo are starving under Russia’s new food trade embargo.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced a ban on food imports from the U.S., European Union, Australia and Canada this week.
Virtually all of the food that the zoo animals eat is imported and zookeepers are dire need of meat, fish, fruit and vegetables.
Polish apples, which accounted for a large portion of the bears’ diets, are now banned.
“We are looking for an alternative to imported fruit. The inhabitants of Moscow Zoo eat more than 100 kilograms a day,” said zoo official Sergey Kapkov.
“The main imported foods are fruits and vegetables,” said zoo spokeswoman Anna Kachurovskaya. “A lot of the animals eat apples and we bought Polish apples which were of good quality and inexpensive.”
“They don’t like Russian food,” she said. “They’re extremely attached to what they like, so it’s a hard question for us.”
She added that “imported products are cheaper than domestic, and some products are rare in Russia or even not available at all.”
It’s not easy to source produce from new suppliers, she explained.
“Some species have special 'geographical' preferences,” she said.
The zoo’s penguins won’t eat any other kind of fish than the whole fish caught off the coast of South America. Others eat giblets, but won’t touch the domestic giblets in Russia “and we cannot explain this preference.”
“We hope that the government will find a way to help,” Kachurovskaya said. “Baby food was not banned - are animals worse than children?”
She says the animals aren’t asking for much.
“We are not talking about Brie,” she said. “We’re just talking about ordinary food.”
Russia’s embargo bans beef, pork, fruit and vegetable produce, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products from western countries.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons / Rigelus, "Lynx rufus in moscow zoo," Jan. 2014