Near Freedom Square of the second largest city Kharkiv in Ukraine, a 10-year-old female chimpanzee Chichi was keeping one-meter distance on Monday with zookeeper Victoria Kozyreva, who was trying to persuade her to return to the zoo. Chichi escaped from Kharkiv’s zoo on the day. Despite Kozyreva’s effort, she strongly refused to return, turning her back and pushing her zookeeper.
A two-hour long confrontation, however, came to an end in an instant. When raindrops began to fall, Chichi ran towards Kozyreva. She took off her yellow raincoat and offered it to Chichi, who then threw herself into the zookeeper’s arms. It was the moment when Chichi’s ‘deviation’ ended. Chichi then wheeled back on Kozyreva’s bike and returned to the zoo. The video of Chichi scuffling with Kozyreva and getting back home on bicycle has gone viral very rapidly on social media and online.
The New York Times introduced on Wednesday the story of Chichi who touched the heart of citizens in Kharkiv City, which reduced to ashes due to Russia’s intensive shelling and air raids in the early stage of its invasion of Ukraine in March this year.
The zoo said that it is not clear why and how Chichi went out of the zoo, but added that not only Chichi but all animals in the zoo are under extreme stress caused by the Russian force’s bombardment and never-ending air raid siren. Animals may be feeling the fear of war as humans do.
Chichi was rescued from her former home at Feldman’s Ecopark to the current zoo on Feb. 24, 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine. At the Feldman’s Ecopark, some 100 animals including two orangutans and one chimpanzee, were allegedly killed by Russia’s attack.
Kharkiv was once occupied by Russia in March this year, but was recaptured by Ukraine in May. On the day when Chichi went out and saw the world out of the zoo, three civilians in the suburb of Kharkiv were killed by Russia’s air strikes.