Animals Left to Die at Abandoned Zoo Find Hope in Caring Elderly Couple
News| | By Margo Gothelf
An unlucky group of animals were recently abandoned at a zoo and left to die until a local couple came to their rescue. Now, an international outreach is forming to get emergency aid to the neglected creatures. Three lions, two bears and two guinea pigs were left trapped in the small town of Gyumri, Armenia. The animals have been stuck in tiny concrete cages without any food or water since their original owners abandoned them and the property.
According to the International Animal Rescue, one of the bears, covered in matted fur and dirt, collapsed only a few weeks ago. The lions are suffering as well. One of the lions has a wound on her head from repeatedly slamming it into the bars on the cage. “The animals are in an appalling state,” Roger Allen, a photographer who recently shot the dilapidated zoo, shared with The Dodo. “The bears were pacing around in circles in frustration and desperation at being caged in such a small area. The lioness, Mary, the mother of the two cubs, hardly moved. She lay with her head against the bars.” Allen explained that the animals used to belong to an Armenian billionaire who purchased them to show off at jungle-themed parties like pets. The billionaire’s whereabouts are currently unknown. A local media outlet reported that Stepan Vardanyan, a businessman who originally set up the zoo in 2010, used to own the animals but can no longer support them because of financial and health troubles. While Vardanyan couldn’t bear to put the animals down, they were essentially left to die on their own. Tragically several of them have already perished. In a very needed silver lining, a local couple came to the rescue for the remaining seven animals. Hovhamnes and Alvina Madoyan staggered upon the zoo and couldn’t see leaving the animals behind. “I lost my job, I had nothing, my wife and I were walking by the deserted zoo when we heard these terrible cries of animals in torment,” Hovhamnes told Allen, according to a statement released by the photographer. “We came in to see the lioness and her cub literally frothing at the mouths from lack of water.” The retired couple has a limited income, so they are doing their best to try and support the animals. They have moved into a nearby shack and feed the animals with scraps of food. “My wife and I can’t bear to see God’s creatures in pain,” Hovhamnes reportedly said. “We fetched water for them and then organized some meat from a local slaughterman. That is how we scrape by.” However, it looks like major help is coming. An international coalition of animal rescue groups has come together to take the animals to a shelter. A few of the animals have already been moved. “We are still far from reaching a happy ending for these poor neglected animals,” Lis Key, PR and communications manager at IAR, shared with The Dodo. “But I have huge confidence in everyone working towards this goal and don’t doubt that they will eventually achieve it.”
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