Baghdad Zoo Animals to Get Help From U.S. Zoos

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Walsh, in conjunction with Lt. Col James D. Fikes, the military veterinarian with the U.S. Army who is in charge of responding to the zoo animal disaster, is trying to get a vet from the Saudi zoo flown into Baghdad with tranquilizing equipment so that the large exotic animals can be rounded up and consolidated at the main zoo.

Coordinating Relief Efforts

"There are quite a few experienced zoo people in the Middle East," said Jones. "Our job will be coordinating information and resources, so we don't get a lot of individual efforts that, though well-meaning, can confuse the picture."

The AZA mounted a similar effort to help the zoo in Kabul, Afghanistan, when the Taliban fell, raising U.S. $530,000 in a little under 12 weeks.

"In Kabul, the few staff the zoo did have there were really dedicated and never left the animals. They stayed throughout the fall of the Taliban and the American invasion," said Ballentine. "In Baghdad, American and British troops, as well as the Iraqi Republican Guard, used the zoo as a staging area, and the zoo people were forced to leave. So the biggest issue will be whether those folks will be able to come back and take over the day-to-day care of the animals, getting food, the right kind of food, and shelter for the animals.

Purina, which has a scientific diet for all zoo animals, will donate the food, said Walsh. "They've always been good about responding to crises like these," he said.

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More National Geographic Iraq resources:
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