SANAA: Lions are starving in a national zoo in Yemen's rebel-held capital Sanaa.
The country's civil war has caused the collapse of local currency and escalation of food prices, making it hard to get enough food and medical care for animals in the zoo, including lions.
"Four lions have died over the past weeks due to severe food shortage and diseases," Fouad al-Harsh, who is in charge of taking care of the zoo, told Xinhua.
Established in 1999, the zoo has about 1,159 animals, including 31 lions, two Arabian leopards, four ostriches, four hyenas, and various numbers of wolves, hawks, crocodiles, monkeys and other animals.
Since its opening, the zoo has become an escape for Yemeni families who enjoy watching various animals closely.
"The high prices do not enable us to provide enough meat or medical care to help the remaining lions," al-Harsh added, complaining of a decline in the number of visitors whose entrance fee could help support the zoo.
"Lions need more food and medical care," said Mokhtar al-Dhayani, a visitor, while wandering along with his family in the zoo.
Visitors to the zoo fear that the lack of sufficient food may lead to more deaths among the gaunt lions. They hope the war will end very soon and the economic conditions will improve.
"The situations are difficult and we hope the war could immediately end," said Imad Hajib, another visitor to the zoo.
The zoo keepers in Sanaa fear that more animals would die if the war and blockade continue.
"If the war and blockade imposed on Yemen continue in the coming years, the zoo in Sanaa will lose most of its animals due to the lack of medicines, vaccines and food," al-Harsh warned.
There are only two zoos in Yemen. The other one is located in Taiz province and suffers from the same difficult conditions as the Sanaa zoo.
Yemen has been mired in a nearly five-year civil war that has created what the United Nations says is the world's most urgent humanitarian crisis.
The United Nations is trying to end the war that has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the country to the brink of famine.