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2 December 2001 Issue
Afghan Animals Get Badly Needed Boost

From ASPCA News Alert - news-alert@aspca.org 

Things are finally looking a little brighter for the residents of the Kabul Zoo. Although the buildings and displays were ravaged by heavy artillery in 1992 and 1993--and many of the animals who weren't eaten for food were beaten with sticks and pelted with rocks by bored Taliban soldiers--19 of the original 37 species have survived, including monkeys, wolves, a bear and a 45-year-old one-eyed lion named Marjan. The big cat was blinded when an Afghan fighter threw a grenade at him in the early 1990s. "He is as old as I am," zoo director Sheragha Omar recently told the Associated Press. "The poor beast has no mate. He is aging fast. Mostly, he is traumatized from his brush with death. But we cannot let these animals die," continued Omar. "It is our Pashtun honor. We do not count up the cost. Our duty is to save them."

Late last week, the UK-based World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) was able to get funds directly to the zoo via a British newspaper. The money will provide ongoing veterinary care and food for the zoo's animals for the next three months. WSPA is also preparing to mobilize an animal-disaster relief team to visit the country at the earliest opportunity. It is suspected that large numbers of livestock may have been killed or injured as a result of the conflict, and that rabies may become more of a problem. Says John Walsh, WSPA's international projects director, "The current crisis in Afghanistan has become a terrible tragedy for the people of the region and their animals. In situations like this, WSPA has a long track record of working to address the problems facing the livestock and pet animal populations. During the previous conflict in Afghanistan, a WSPA team visited the Kabul Zoo and provided medical treatment for the animals there." For the latest updates on the situation, and to find out how you can help,

visit WSPA online.
http://www.wspa-americas.org/

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