Lady offers shelter to wild animals and pets in war-torn Ukraine

Woman gives shelter to wild animals and pets in war-torn Ukraine


Natalia Popova has discovered a brand new goal in life by rescuing wild animals and pets from the devastation wrought by the warfare in Ukraine.

“They’re my life,” says the 50-year-old, stroking a light-furred lioness like a kitten.

From inside an enclosure, the animal rejoices on the consideration, mendacity on her again and stretching her paws up towards her caretaker.

Ms Popova, in cooperation with the animal safety group UA Animals, has already saved greater than 300 animals from the warfare; 200 of them went overseas and 100 discovered new properties in western Ukraine, which is taken into account safer.

Lots of them have been wild animals who have been saved as pets at non-public properties earlier than their homeowners fled Russian shelling and missiles.

Ms Popova’s shelter within the Kyiv area village of Chubynske now homes 133 animals.

It’s a broad menagerie, together with 13 lions, a leopard, a tiger, three deer, wolves, foxes, raccoons and roe deer, in addition to domesticated animals like horses, donkeys, goats, rabbits, canine, cats and birds.

The animals awaiting evacuation to Poland have been rescued from sizzling spots akin to japanese Ukraine’s Kharkiv and Donetsk areas, which see day by day bombardments and energetic preventing.

The Ukrainian troopers who let Ms Popova know when animals close to the entrance traces need assistance joke that she has many lives, like a cat.

“Nobody desires to go there. Everyone seems to be afraid. I’m additionally scared, however I’m going anyway,” she stated.

Natalia Popova takes care of the animals (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

Typically she is trembling within the automobile on her strategy to rescue one other wild animal.

“I really feel very sorry for them. I can think about the stress animals are beneath due to the warfare, and nobody might help them,” Ms Popova stated.

Normally, she is aware of nothing in regards to the animals she rescues, neither their names and ages nor their homeowners.

“Animals don’t introduce themselves after they come to us,” she joked.

For the primary months of the warfare, Ms Popova drove to warfare sizzling spots alone, however a pair from UA Animals lately supplied to move and assist her.

“Our document is an evacuation in 16 minutes, once we saved a lion between Kramatorsk and Sloviansk,” Ms Popova stated.

An economist by training with no formal veterinary expertise, she administered anaesthesia on the lion as a result of the animal needed to be put to sleep earlier than it might be transported.

Ms Popova says she has all the time been very hooked up to animals.

In kindergarten, she constructed homes for worms and talked to birds.

Ms Popova talks to a tiger (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

In 1999, she opened the primary non-public horse membership in Ukraine.

Nevertheless it was not till 4 years in the past that she saved her first lion.

An organisation in opposition to slaughterhouses approached her with a request for assist saving a lion with a damaged backbone.

She didn’t understand how she may assist as a result of her experience was in horses.

However when she noticed a photograph of the massive cat, Ms Popova couldn’t resist.

She constructed an enclosure and took within the lion the subsequent morning, paying the proprietor.

Later, Ms Popova created a social media web page titled Assist The Lioness, and folks started to jot down asking for assist saving different wild animals.

Yana, the primary lioness she rescued, has turn into a member of the family since she couldn’t discover a new residence because of a incapacity.

Ms Popova took care of her till she died two weeks in the past.

The shelter is only a short-term cease for the animals.

Ms Popova rehabilitates them after which seems for brand new properties for them.

She feels a particular reference to every large cat, however says she doesn’t thoughts letting them go.

“I really like them, and I perceive that I wouldn’t have the sources to offer them with the snug life they deserve,” says Ms Popova.

Bears take pleasure in themselves in an animal shelter that belongs to Natalia Popova (Roman Gritsyna/AP)

At first, she bankrolled the shelter along with her personal funds from the horse enterprise.

However since Russia invaded Ukraine on February twenty fourth, the horse enterprise has not been worthwhile.

With greater than 14,000 US {dollars} a month wanted to maintain animals wholesome and fed, she has turned to borrowing, and seen her debt develop to 200,000 US {dollars}.

She will get some cash from UA Animals and from donations, however worries about easy methods to maintain every little thing collectively have saved her up at evening.

“However I’ll nonetheless borrow cash, go to sizzling spots and save animals.

“I can’t say no to them,” she stated.

Popova sends all her animals to the Poznan Zoo in Poland, which helps her evacuate them and discover them new properties.

Some animals have already been transported to Spain, France and South Africa.

Her subsequent mission is sending 12 lions to Poland this week.

With no finish to the preventing in sight, Popova is aware of she is going to nonetheless be wanted.

“My mission on this warfare is to avoid wasting wild animals,” she says.