IFAW Rushes Experts and Urgently Needed Supplies to Baghdad Zoo Animals

Tuesday, 17 June, 2003
Baghdad, Iraq
The International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) Emergency Relief (ER) Team has now joined other committed organizations in bringing expert care and much needed supplies to the animals housed at Baghdad Zoo.
The five-person expert IFAW team began to arrive in Baghdad a week ago, and now includes vets and logistical experts and has many years experience in handling difficult and dangerous situations to bring care to animals in need. The international IFAW team includes Amed Khan, a logistical expert with former UN disaster relief experience from the U.S.; Mariette Hopley, a specialist from South Africa who assisted in the management of the rescue of 20,000 penguins devastated by a massive oilspill there; Dr. Jason Thrupp, a noted veterinarian from New Zealand with international experience; Jackson Zee, a zoo-management expert who currently manages IFAW’s moon bear sanctuary near Hong Kong, Province of China; and Dr. Ashraf, an experienced wildlife veterinarian from India.

The IFAW ER Team is also bringing in urgently needed food and medical supplies to the animals being housed in Baghdad Zoo – and is working directly with other groups on this important initiative including the Thula Thula Executive Game Reserve (South Africa) on the ground at the zoo, and the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) which has committed support for the animals.

Khan explained, “We are providing logistical support in terms of sourcing and establishing a steady food supply for the zoo animals, providing veterinary assistance, and supporting the zoo staff in getting a practical system in place to ensure the zoo will run smoothly during the months of transition ahead.”

The zoo originally had in excess of 400 animals of all varieties – including exotic birds - but their numbers have been reduced to just 50 by looters who stole them either for food or to sell.

Animals now being cared for at zoo include 19 lions, tigers, brown bears, wolves, foxes, jackals, camels, ostrich, badgers, and some primates. Following the recent strife in Iraq the animals were left severely traumatized and without food and water. Looters stole most of the zoo equipment and zookeepers were unable to provide any support for the animals in their care.

The supplies that IFAW is organizing include three tons of meat for the lions and cheetahs and other animal food, plus medical equipment such as drip feed kits, suture kits, and antibiotics. In addition because of the work needed on enclosures other materials coming in range from angle grinder discs, and welding equipment to electrical and plumbing supplies, as well as cleaning materials.

The shipment is coming in on a truck convoy from Kuwait that is bringing in humanitarian supplies, and is expected to arrive sometime today. Assistance with sourcing the animal food was provided by the Kuwait Zoo.

“These supplies are urgently needed and it is great news that they are now on their way,” said Amed Khan, one of the members of the IFAW ER team in Baghdad. “The situation here was pretty desperate and the animals were in a poor condition when our colleagues with Thula Thula first arrived, but things have now been stabilised and with these supplies it will get better. However, we are working in extremely difficult conditions. The zoo is based on 19th century designs with very small concrete floor enclosures and heavy bars, so improving the welfare of the animals is far from easy, but it remains one of our goals.

“Our vet and wildlife experts will be working over the coming weeks to improve the welfare of the animals and to come up with a plan for the medium to long term care of the animals,” Khan added.

To support this important international effort to bring much needed supplies to the animals in Baghdad, visit www.ifaw.org today! Your assistance is desperately needed.

The groups that have provided assistance with the emergency relief efforts at Baghdad Zoo include: American Zoo & Aquarium Association (AZA), Care for the Wild, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Thula Thula Executive Game Reserve and WildAid

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Press Contact

Amed Khan (IFAW ER team in Baghdad)
Contact phone:
+8816 3143 9197 (satellite phone)
Contact email:


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