Monday, September 12, 2011

Animal-rescue experts help Tripoli Zoo in the knick of time

In a city slashed by war, a tiger fights for life.

Osama, a Siberian tiger at the Tripoli Zoo, has been suffering for days. He is on his side, breathing shallowly, his huge paws motionless -- caramel, black-and-white-striped fur covered with flies that he is too weak to brush off.

A team of animal-welfare experts from Austria's Four Paws International gently rolls the tiger over and Dr. Amir Khalil, dripping sweat, searches for a vein, then puts in an IV drip to give the animal vitamins.

Asked why the tiger is so sick, the veterinarian replies, "Honestly, we don't know but I believe he's old, 21 years. That's number one. Number two, it was a lot of stress in the surroundings here."

During the struggle for Tripoli, gunfire raged just outside the zoo. When the fighting was at its height some Libyans packed up their cars and fled. The animals at the Tripoli Zoo didn't have that option. The deafening sounds of shooting, the acrid smell of battle -- there was no respite for these sensitive creatures.

Shells still litter the zoo grounds. As the zoo's director, Dr. Abdulfatah Husni, leads a CNN crew to the mammal house, he points out bullet casings on the sidewalk. "This is for Kalashnikov. You know Kalashnikov?" he asks, referring to automatic rifles. more