Story By: Gheorghi Caraseni, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
Video Credit: CEN/@evinform
Six tigers left to starve to death by their owner after he went abroad have been rescued by animal rights activists in Ukraine.
They were tipped off about the starving tigers (Panthera tigris) on 30th December and the activists then discovered the animals kept in a makeshift cage on Vodnikov Island in the Holosiivskyi District in the capital Kiev in north-central Ukraine.
One of the activists who is also a local lawyer, Evgheniya Prokopenko, posted a video and pictures online of the rescue operation. The tigers were being kept in what used to be a private club that had apparently fallen into disuse and the owner, who was not named in Prokopenko’s report but is reportedly a well-known Ukrainian, had moved abroad and simply left the animals behind.
She wrote: “Almost half of the staff of the Holosiivskyi police department visited the site of the ‘Tiger Club’ together with rescue workers where we found six tigers in terrible conditions. We got a call saying they are being kept in a tiny aviary and that they are keeping people awake by roaring day and night.
“The aviaries where they are being housed were made of improvised materials. The conditions were shocking, three tigers lived in an eight-square-metre (86-square-foot) aviary in mud and their own waste, with no possibility to find a dry place.”
According to the lawyer, the animals were so thirsty they were even drinking the liquid from the floor.
She added: “Another mature tiger lived in a three-square-metre (32-square-foot) aviary while another two stayed in another one just a little larger.”
When police arrived they found security guards looking after the place but nobody caring for the tigers.
Lawyer Prokopenko added: “We have launched criminal proceedings according to the first part of Article 299 (Cruelty to animals) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The suspect may face up to three years of imprisonment. We are now solving the issue by taking the animals to special institutions.”
A journalist from the ‘Ukrainskaya Pravda’ (Ukrainian Truth) newspaper, Yaroslava Koba, claimed that she had identified the owner as a person named Vladimir Bulankov and claimed to have contacted him.
She said that he had promised to be back in the country by 3 January and to make the tigers a top priority. He said that his plan was to hand them over to the ‘Feldman Ekopark’ zoo in the Kharkov city which is in north-eastern Ukraine.
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