Last animals in Mosul zoo get their first meal in a month

The only two animals left in a Mosul zoo rescued from starvation.

The bear in Nour Park,  one of only two animals left in the Mosul zoo, on February 2, 2017. Muhammad Hamed / Reuters
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MOSUL, IRAQ // Wracked by hunger and living in filth, a bear and a lion are the only animals left in the ruins of a zoo in Mosul — victims too of the bitter war against ISIL..

Privately-owned Nour Park in the eastern part of the city used to be a popular amusement park with children’s rides. It was also home to a collection of monkeys, horses and other animals. But when military advances on Mosul began, the extremists turned it into a battleground.

“The battle lasted for three or four months. There was a guard that used to come and feed them,” the park’s owner, Abu Omar, said.

Neighbours fed the animals until the fighting became too fierce for people to leave their homes. Some of the animals escaped, some were killed and others died of starvation.

The bear and the lion had not had food for a month until volunteers arrived from the Kurdistan Organization for Animal Rights Protection on Thursday.

People living nearby said they had been bringing leftovers to the zoo animals, but as the fighting dragged on and supplies ran low, they were struggling to find enough to feed hemselves and their familiesit was not enough as many people struggled to find food for themselves and their families.

At one point a cage broke open, allowing monkeys to escape and wreak havoc around the neighbourhood — even attacking humans, according to one resident who said a monkey had scratched her baby.

* Reuters