Combating the sixth extinction event: Yemen’s animal “Last of the Mohicans” are being given a chance at survival by organization One World Actors Productions: Animal Rescues (OWAP). The organization, founded by president Kim Michelle Broderick, has dedicated themselves since January 2016 to rescuing the iconic and rare mammals, birds and reptiles still trapped and hungry at destitute Ibb and Taiz Zoos in war-stricken Yemen.
Yemen has been in the merciless grip of a civil war since 2015, a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with a blockade at all borders, airports and ports and its cities under siege. The government is in meltdown, public authorities are penniless and workers without salaries, leaving zoos abandoned and their imprisoned animals starving to death.
Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East and largely ignored by the rest of the world, despite its extraordinary World Heritage Sites, ancestral origins of Christianity, and many rare and endangered species, such as the critically endangered Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr).
The blockade in Yemen prevents any evacuation of these animals abroad, so OWAP is endeavoring to keep them alive on-site for the duration of the war. OWAP’s volunteer teams have been implementing ground operations funded by public donations to feed the animals, devise and implement behavioral enrichments, build new humane outdoor enclosures to free the animals from their cruel, dungeon-like enclosures, and pay zoo and veterinary staff in lieu of their monthly salaries.
OWAP is also launching a project to transfer some of the predators from the cruel confinement of their concrete prison cells at overcrowded Taiz Zoo to a more humane open-range enclosure at Ibb Zoo.
Ibb Zoo houses 58 species, while Taiz Zoo houses 289 species, all currently struggling to survive. In addition to endangered Arabian leopards, animals who had been left to starve at the zoo include lions, striped hyenas, ocelots, hamadryas baboons, Arabian caracals, rare raptors, crocodiles, pythons, Indian crested porcupines, honeybadgers, bulls, goats, ostriches, peacocks, Canaan dogs, doves, owls, camels, Arabian horses, geese, donkeys and Arabian partridges. Four lion cubs and two striped hyena pups were also recently born at Ibb Zoo.
“How can we possibly abandon these animals to starve in the midst of a brutal war?” asks Leanne Abigail Condliffe, OWAP’s UK Board Director and passionate animal lover. “The planet could lose an entire sub-species if we don’t urgently save Taiz Zoo’s 30 critically endangered Arabian leopards.”
For more information about OWAP’s rescue and relief efforts at Yemen’s Ibb and Taiz zoo, click here.
Featured image: a lion languishes in a cruel and barren enclosure at Taiz Zoo. This image and all images in this story via One World Actors Productions.