Escaped chimpanzee returns to Kharkiv zoo on keeper’s bicycle | Ukraine

A chimpanzee that escaped Kharkiv city zoo on Monday was persuaded to return by a zoo employee who wheeled it back on a bicycle.

Staff at the zoo in Ukraine’s second-biggest city were struggling to persuade Chichi, who had wandered around streets and a nearby park, to return to the zoo with them.

But when it started to rain she ran to a keeper, who put a yellow jacket on her. The pair embraced before Chichi was put on the seat of a bike.

Footage of the incident brought a rare moment of joy to a frontline city under daily bombardment by Russian forces.

The zoo’s director, Oleksiy Hryhoriev, confirmed to Ukraine’s public broadcaster Suspilne that the animal was safely back in the zoo.

Earlier in the war, Chichi had been evacuated from the Feldman Ecopark, an outdoor zoo on frontlines in the Kharkiv region.

Kharkiv city has also faced daily shelling, with buildings across the northern and eastern parts of the city left blackened by bombs. Hundreds of civilians have been killed and injured.

The city centre, where the zoo is located, has been hit less frequently since its main administrative buildings were destroyed in March. But last week at least four civilians were killed when a rocket hit the centre.

Kharkiv’s regional authorities, who have the grim task of announcing the daily death toll, said on Tuesday that one woman had been killed in the east of the city. The local Kharkiv News site reported that two other women and a man were being rescued from the rubble of a building in the city centre.

Chimpanzee
A chimpanzee in its enclosure at Kharkiv city zoo, where waterfall sounds are used to relieve animals’ stress under bombardment. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Though Chichi still lives in relative danger, she was lucky to leave her former home at Feldman’s Ecopark alive. More than 100 animals died before they were able to be evacuated, according to the zoo’s owner, the Kharkiv businessman Oleksandr Feldman.

Feldman added that six people who volunteered to help with the evacuation of the animals were killed.

A journalist for the German newspaper Bild in May documented the killing of a 15-year-old volunteer who had come to the park with his parents and was caught in a Russian attack.

The teenager was taken to hospital under shelling, although the journalist said he was already dead. While his parents mourned the loss of their son outside the hospital, some Ukrainian soldiers arrived with two Russian prisoners of war.

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