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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Baghdad's zoo animals hit by war
Iraqi camel
Baghdad's zoo animals are as hungry as its citizens

Along with the city's citizens, animals in Baghdad's public and private zoos are suffering from a lack of supplies.

As efforts understandably concentrate on helping the Iraqi capital's human population, the city's animals are not a high priority.

At the compound of Saddam Hussein's oldest son, Uday, two leopards, a family of lions and a brown bear are all in poor condition in his private zoo.

Lacking strength and looking exhausted, the animals lie around and stare glumly out of their cages.

No one dares to enter because we don't know how to treat these animals
US Second Lieutenant Karl Hoempler

And Baghdad public zoo has been completely destroyed after serving as a battlefield when US troops tried to take the capital last week.

At the presidential compound where Uday lived, Second Lieutenant Karl Hoempler has been on duty near the private zoo.

"No one dares to enter because we don't know how to treat these animals. The veterinary unit isn't here and we don't know how to feed them.

"We've been giving them some rations or whatever we can find."

Short supplies

Even before the current war began, Baghdad's zoo animals were suffering under United Nations sanctions imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990.

They are now short of proper food and medicine.

When Saddam Hussein was in power, animals at Uday's private zoo each consumed the meat of two donkeys per day.

But a donkey costs $4, a monthly salary in Iraq.

"We haven't eaten meat since we left for the war so how can we feed them?" Lieutenant Hoempler said.

The people charged with caring for Uday's animals used to live next door to the private zoo, but they seem to have left.

It might be some time before new zoo keepers, and plentiful supplies, are found for all Baghdad's zoo animals.

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