Ukrainian Wildlife, Domestic Animals Caught Up In War, Organizations Step Up to Help

It was U.S. General William T. Sherman who famously said “War is Hell.” and that is as true for animals as it is for humans.

Humans have always had a bad habit of involving animals in their conflicts. Whether it is riding horses into battle, training dogs to fight, or attaching burning brands to pigeons and sending them into besieged citie, humans have always treated animals badly in wartime, exploiting them for political gain. That in addition to the disruption and destruction of battle.

man holding axe rides on horse concrete statue
Perhaps horses are the most obvious example of animals used and abused in warfare,but plenty of other creatures suffer when men take up weapons. Photo by Ahmad Alsaad on

In the current war in Ukraine both domestic and wild animals are suffering and a variety of groups are taking active steps to assist zoos, veterinary clinics and rescue organizations. Reports are emerging of people fleeing the fighting with pets in tow, threats of destruction to zoos and the carnage of back and forth fighting over terrain.

grayscale photo of man holding a sword
People weren’ t content to fight wars but staged warfare for entertainment in Rome. Lions and other animals fought each other and humans in gladiator games all over the empirePhoto by David Cruz asenjo on

Twin 1-year old male lions were rescued from Kyiv, narrowly escaping death. They were rescued from a Ukrainian sanctuary and taken to Opglabeek Belgium and the Natuurhulpcentrum. The Belgian organization is a wildlife rescue organization. The lions had been seized in Ukraine in an animal neglect case and were taken from the Ukrainian sanctuary to a zoo in Poznan, Poland. The Polish zoo then transferred them to Belgium.

Many organizations, including the Internation Fund for Animal Welfare, are mobilizing fund raising efforts and efforts on the ground.

As for the fate of Ukrainian wildlife it is unclear. Despite the deadly nuclear accident in Chernobyl. local wildlife was rebounding. Ukraine has diverse regions and plenty of wildlife including deer, boar, lynx and wolves. Or at least it did before the arrival of tanks and artillery.

photo of abandoned building interior
The destruction caused by the accident at Chernobyl proved destructive to wildlife in the area. Wildlfie appears to have recovered and may recover from the effects of war. Photo by Wendelin Jacober on

The war is ongoing and it is unclear how much damage will result to animals in Ukraine. It is clear that many organizations are seeking funds and volunteers to help and responding creatively to the challenges posed by European war.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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