• Animals in Kyiv Zoo have increasingly exhibited signs of stress due to the Russian shelling of the Ukrainian capital
  • Some were moved inside the facility, but large animals such as elephants and giraffes could not be moved below ground
  • The zoo has enough supplies for around two weeks, but key supply routes could be cut off if Kyiv is surrounded

Russian shelling in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv has started to affect the animals of the city's zoo.

Animals in Kyiv Zoo have increasingly exhibited signs of stress amid the ongoing conflict, the Washington Post reported.

Around 4,000 animals remain at the facility, which is next to a key military installation and possibly in the path of a Russian push into the capital.

Some of the animals reportedly cower from air raid sirens and blasts that reverberate throughout the day.

The zoo's zebras have been moved inside after they panicked at the sound of shelling and ran directly into a fence, while a newborn lemur was also taken into care after he was abandoned by his mother, which was likely caused by stress.

However, large animals such as elephants or giraffes cannot be moved below ground.

"They have no space to hide or run," Kyrylo Trantin, the zoo's 49-year-old director, was quoted as saying.

"Once they’re out of the zoo, they have fewer options than any human. It’s going to be the streets with tanks," Trantin said.

Among these giant animals was Horace, the zoo's Asian elephant, who is vulnerable to loud noises.

Explosions have resulted in a staffer moving into the 17-year-old elephant's enclosure so they can sleep beside the animal and comfort him from any loud bangs.

"If a rocket or shell lands, they know how to calm him down," Trantin said of his colleagues.

Around 50 staff members of Kyiv Zoo have moved into the facility to take care of the animals around the clock, bringing some 30 family members with them.

They reportedly take cover during air raid sirens in the zoo's makeshift shelters, such as the one in a bird enclosure, as well as another in an unfinished aquarium.

Kyiv Zoo hopes to avoid the fate of Feldman Ecopark in the eastern city of Kharkiv, which lost some of its animals due to fighting around the area.

As the process of moving large animals was difficult, Trantin instead prepared for the possibility of a Russian invasion about a week before it began and stocked up on food supplies and material to rebuild enclosures in case of an attack.

While the zoo has enough supplies for around two weeks, Kyiv's general population is already preparing for the possibility that key supply routes could be cut off if the city is surrounded.

Lions and tigers driven out of Ukraine to safety in Polish zoo. Reuters / POZNAN ZOO