Animals in Belgrade zoo also feel effects of war
May 29, 1999
From Correspondent Walter Rodgers
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Few residents of Belgrade seem more helpless during NATO airstrikes than the animals in the city zoo. They remain trapped in an increasingly desperate world of sonic booms, air raid sirens and dwindling hope.
The wolves, anxiously pacing back and forth, know when the warplanes are coming before the radar systems do.
Since the bombs began falling March 24, most of the pregnant females in the zoo have aborted their young or delivered prematurely. Some have eaten their young, according to zoo officials.
Yugoslav authorities restricted CNN's access while it was in the zoo covering this story.
The attacks have so disturbed Prince, a Bengal tiger affectionate enough to pet by hand, that the 300-kilogram (660-pound) cat is chewing off his own feet. Zoo officials say they don't have enough medicine to properly treat him.
A sea lion had no where to swim because NATO air raids repeatedly knocked out water and power supplies. Last week it returned to the water, its tank full for now. Still, the polar bears will not have enough water to cool off with this summer, zoo officials said.
The exotic birds have suffered dreadfully. The females are too frightened to sit on their nests. Thousands of eggs have been lost in incubators that stopped working during power outages. Some ostrich and emu eggs will probably end up in the trash, a zoo worker said.
There is not enough food for the humans, much less the animals. Some of the zoo's zebras will be fed to the big cats if the war continues into the autumn.
Yet the end could come much quicker. At night, half a dozen guards with high-powered rifles are posted around the zoo grounds. Should a stray bomb break a fence or cage, they have orders to shoot the animals.
Despite the lack of money for their salaries, the staff has managed to keep its humor, albeit of the dark kind.
They have named two of the pythons after the current and former U.S. secretaries of state, Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher.
Yugoslavia reports more civilian casualties in NATO attacks
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