Saturday, March 8, 2014

Kharkov Zoo Update

Good, good news!!! After the Kharkov Zoo released a cry for help, a stunning response came in from the local community.

Today was International Women's Day and as a fundraiser the zoo offered half-price on all tickets: 20 uah ($2.17 USD) for adults, 10 uah ($1.08 USD) for kids. The line for tickets went on forever, stretching all the way from the admission gates back to the Ukraina theater. I thought we'd never get in!

Rest assured that for today, the animals are fed. Kharkov, you rallied together and saved the day! Bags and bags and bags of food were dropped off, a constant stream of potatoes, cabbage, apples, and more goods. The zoo's little red tractor was in constant motion, shuttling food between this massive pile near the admission gates and a mountain of plastic bags inside the administration building.

Here's the translation of what the zoo posted on their website earlier today:


We thank you all! Our animals have been provided with enough food for the next few days! 

We sincerely thank all who helped the zoo during these difficult days: with groceries, with money, or simply by buying a ticket to visit the zoo. We're really pleased that thousands of Kharkovians and guests of the city responded to our cry for help.

Today we received a huge quantity of all kinds of food stuffs, so many that we can barely manage to shelve and count them all. Now we have food for the immediate future, so we must turn away further food donations (especially food that spoils quickly).  If you want to help the zoo, please, buy an entrance ticket. If there will be enough visitors, the zoo itself will be able to provide all necessary food in the future.

Please be patient about the long lines at the entrance of the zoo. So many kind people decided to visit the zoo this weekend that the cashiers simply can't keep up with such an enormous quantity of people. If you don't want to stand in line, please come back in a week or so. In the future, your help is even more valuable than right at this moment.
At the same time, we ask all zoo visitors not to feed animals in the zoo because overfeeding them can be just as tragic as not feeding them at all.

A huge thank you once again! 


Yes, that's a fat happy cat on the path in front of us.

D and I got the chance to sit down and speak with Alexandra Fedorovna, a member of the zoo staff and a really pleasant, warm-hearted woman.

She is VERY excited about what has happened but still cautious.

"The zoo has received a lot of responses. Businesses have promised to help, supermarkets have said that they'll provide past-the-best-buy-date food. We've received enough cash to cover the money we owed for past food purchases. We still welcome any help we can get. We'll still need to buy other foods (grains, hay, etc) for our animals."

How can we help?

Many of you posted comments on the previous entry, asking how you can help. Based on what we saw today and on the information the zoo has provided, I don't think this is a crisis situation at this point. Thanks to local citizens and businesses, no animals will die here on Monday or Tuesday or any other day this week.

That said, this is still a very difficult time for Ukraine. Many things remain to be decided in terms of the fate of the country and how money will be spent. Repairs need to be made to public property, people need to heal from physical and emotional wounds, families need to grieve for their dead, the political situation needs to stabilize... so much is uncertain right now and it's impossible to predict what will happen next. 

The people of Kharkov have shown the world how generous and caring they are and I believe they will continue to support the zoo in the future. If you wish to join them in supporting the zoo during this period, please head over to the Kharkiv Zoo Friends Facebook page. One important thing: especially because the situation has changed, let's not rush into anything full speed. Several people have proposed ways to donate funds and I want to investigate those options over the next few days. Once we find the best way to collect funds, I'll share a link on the Facebook page. We can either have the funds then sent to the zoo's intermediary bank in Belgium and then transferred to their Ukrainian bank account, or perhaps find another solution. The zoo does not have any ties with paypal and while I do, I'm not sure how integrated paypal and Ukraine are, if at all.

As a personal fan of the zoo, I'd love to keep the Facebook page going no matter what happens. Some pictures every now and then, a translation of zoo news, anything to help the zoo reach more people and improve conditions for its animals and visitors. At the same time, this blog- 8 Months in Ukraine- will continue to be focused on what it's always been focused on: Ukraine!

A few more notes from our talk with the zoo staff:
  • She's willing to provide proof of how the money is being used: pictures, videos, statements, etc. 
  • Money can be ear-marked for a certain causes: food, repairs, etc. 
  • Next year the zoo will be 120 years old! Many structures in the zoo are in need of repair. One of the original structures has fallen into disrepair and is closed to the public, but is still used to house reptiles. She also brought up the roads in the park and how improving them could help attract more regular visitors.   
inside the zoo, main entrance
path near the main entrance
 storage / staff building

main entrance

People of Kharkov, thank you very much for working together and opening your hearts to our four-legged friends! 

Dear readers, as always, thanks for being a part of the adventure!


  1. Thank you so much for update! Many in Canada are watching what is happening in Ukraine. Best of luck to you and the people (and animals) of Ukraine @mondeeredman

  2. So exciting! Keep us all updated -- I'd love to help out a bit, and it's especially wonderful to feel sure your funds are going to the right place!

  3. Thank you for your due diligence in learning how everyone can best donate. I look forward to donating soon. Hugs and appreciation from Buffalo, New York!! <3

  4. Katherine....we would like to help from San Diego as well...however, we cannot send food as the generous Ukrainians did.... what does the zoo need per day to feed all the animals in terms of money,,,do you know? Thank you. Steven Riznyk

  5. Lovely to have this information. Well done to the Ukrainian people for responding so quickly, donating and visiting. Wishing them and your zoo well for the future.

  6. I think you and your readers may enjoy this:

  7. Just want you to know my family and I live in California, and are praying for all of you in the Ukraine and want to help the animals, too! We hope you can set up an easy method of payment, like PayPal, so we can help out. God Bless you all.

  8. This is the link to official page of Kharkov Zoo with examples in English how to make a wire transfer from abroad:

  9. Thanks for the update! Will be watching from Orlando Florida U.S.
    So happy to hear this! Michelle

  10. Hi all! Thank you for your comments! The link to is correct- we're gathering donations via GoFundMe, then transferring them per the bank's instructions. Or it's always possible to donate independently on your own via a wire transfer (see zoo's website for more info). - Katherine

  11. If you love animals, then please help the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization provide the necessary food and medical supplies to the over 10,000 animals they are working to rescue that are in dire straits right now because of the turmoil in Ukraine. Zoo funding was cut off over night by the Ukrainian government, abandoning these unfortunate animals to starve. LAEO is the only organization that immediately stepped up and has been working tirelessly to ensure these animals survive. In just the past three weeks they started raising money for this and have already delivered over 13 tons of food. But they are just staying ahead of the crisis by a few days. They need to get four months worth of food secured so they can then start working with the zoo officials to implement new ways of funding so the zoos don’t end up in this situation again. You can help them by donating at: