War in Ukraine: Chimp is talked into returning home by keepers after escaping Kharkiv Zoo

A chimpanzee from a Ukrainian zoo that was attacked by Russian troops in the early days of the war escaped and wandered around the city streets before being tempted home by keepers offering a warm jacket and a hug.

The chimp, known as ChiChi, refused to be caught until it started raining, at which point he walked over to his keeper and was helped to put on a raincoat.

ChiChi was one of many animals evacuated from the Feldman Eco Park on the outskirts of Kharkiv at the start of the war. The chimp is now cared for at Kharkiv Zoo, but has reportedly made a number of attempts to escape.

The keeper is seen on video footage taken on Monday afternoon sitting down next to the chimp in a quiet city square and chatting to him, before offering him a yellow raincoat. The chimp then hugs the keeper and is persuaded to follow her to safety. It was reported the animal was taken back to the zoo on a bicycle.

Kharkiv Zoo director Oleksiy Grigoriev confirmed to local media channel Suspilny the animal had been safely returned to the zoo after the escape.

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Russian troops almost completely destroyed the Feldman Ecopark, located to the north-east of Kharkiv, in Derhachiv district, in the early days of the war.

During shelling, three facility employees, who stayed in Kharkiv to feed the animals, were killed. A 15-year-old boy who was volunteering along with his parents to help evacuate some of the animals also died due to Russian shelling.

Firefighters extinguish a fire after an apartment was hit by a missile strike in Kharkiv, where the zoo is based. Picture: Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images

In April, the eco park warned if it could not find new homes for its animals, it may have to put them down, due to fears that Russian shelling could allow them to escape and roam urban areas nearby. Multiple reports suggest many animals at the zoo, including two orangutans and a chimpanzee, were also killed in Russian shelling attacks earlier this year. About 6,000 animals were evacuated from the park in total.

The eco park was founded by Ukrainian politician Oleksander Feldman as part of his charitable foundation and combined animal care and therapy for children with special needs before the war.

The eco park was a popular tourist attraction before the war
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