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Video: Mariupol zoo animals caught in crossfire

The Associated PressA leopard paces in an enclosure amid sounds of shelling at a private zoo in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
Before humanitarian aid arrived, animals killed by shelling nourished the carnivores

A private zoo in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol has not escaped amid the Russian offensive, with animals caught in the crossfire of heavy shelling.

Savely Vashura, the zoo's owner and caretaker, has not left the city and did not evacuate any animals.

He said even during the heaviest of shelling, zoo workers made sure the animals were fed and watered every day, but some had been killed during the strikes.

Vashura said this toll included five camels, four ostriches, six monkeys and a leopard.

Three days ago a shell exploded very near the zoo, Vashura said, but added the situation was now “more or less stable” as Moscow's forces seek to dislodge the last Ukrainian troops in the battered port city.

Mariupol has endured fierce fighting since the start of the war because of its strategic location on the Sea of Azov.

Vashura said food for the animals had started to come in the form of humanitarian aid from Russia, including directly from Moscow Zoo.

Before this, the owner said, he was forced to feed the carnivores with the remains of the animals that were killed by the shelling.

Despite the danger, life goes on at the zoo, with a new litter of raccoons born recently.