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Sat, Nov 24, 2001 - Page 5 News List

Wildlife society sending donations for Kabul's zoo

AFP , LONDON

A London-based society for animal protection said Thursday it was sending thousands of dollars to Kabul's destitute zoo to help treat and feed its animals, not least Marjon the one-eyed lion.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) was also preparing an animal disaster relief team to visit Afghanistan to see what more can be done to improve conditions for the zoo's inhabitants.

The move comes as British politicians called on the government to send much needed relief.

The plight of Marjon, dubbed the "Lion King of Kabul," was featured in a number of media reports following the collapse of the Taliban regime in the Afghan capital.

The lion, a present from the government of West Germany in the days when Afghanistan was at peace under the rule of former king Mohammed Zahir Shah, has survived rocket attacks, stoning by the Taliban and a grenade thrown by the brother of a man whose arm he ate.

But the lion and the remaining handful of creatures in the zoo are in desperate need of veterinary help.

WSPA has pledged money from its disaster relief fund and is trying to find a way of getting it into Afghanistan as soon as possible.

It then hopes to send out the relief team of animal experts, but not necessarily vets, from Britain or America to see what more can be done.

Spokeswoman Isobel Cooley said the organization is liaising with the UN and the Foreign Office with a view to getting a team in before the onset of winter.

John Walsh, WSPA international projects director, said: "The current crisis in Afghanistan has become a terrible tragedy for the people of the region and their animals."

He added: "We are committed to doing all we can to alleviate their suffering now."

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