Alexander Feldman, founder of Feldman Ecopark in Ukraine. Two employees at the zoo were confirmed dead Thursday after they stayed behind to feed animals while Russia invaded. Photo courtesy of Feldman Ecopark
April 21 (UPI) -- Two employees at a zoo in Ukraine that went missing amid the invasion by Russian forces have died, the zoo said Thursday.
Feldman Ecopark, a zoo in Kharkiv, said the bodies of two employees who were reported missing in March after they stayed behind to feed animals as Russian forces invaded the country were discovered on site Wednesday.
"Our guys were shot by the enemies and their bodies had been barricaded in the back room," the zoo said. "We'll cherish the blessed memory of these wonderful and courageous people. Sincere condolences to their families and friends."
Three other staff members and nearly 100 animals at Feldman Ecopark have been killed in the war as the facility has faced Russian shelling, Alexander Feldman, the zoo's founder, told UPI earlier this month.
The zoo has been making efforts to evacuate animals, beginning to remove large predators from the territory of the park early this month after shelling destroyed enclosures and critical infrastructure.
In an update on Wednesday, the zoo said the process of evacuating animals has continued successfully "despite all the difficulties" as it had been able to evacuate five donkeys, three gray wolves and a cassowary.
"Taking out the last animals -- kind and peaceful as a rule -- was difficult, but we managed, all the rescued animals are doing well. and are already heading to their temporary homes. To be continued, all animals will definitely be saved," the zoo said.