When we think of war, it tends to be in the context of human loss. But while Libyan freedom fighters have driven out Muammar Gadhafi and gained control of Tripoli over the last few weeks, the city has experienced quite a bit of damage to its zoo and its inhabitants.

Riots and gunfights continued over several days just outside the zoo walls, creating a stressful environment for animals who couldn't escape from their cages. According to CNN, the zoo grounds are littered with shells, and the roof of the mammal house was hit by an rpg, leaving behind a large hole. Luckily, the grenade didn't harm or kill any of the creatures inside.

However, one saddening casualty of war was that of a 21-year-old Siberian tiger named Osama, who eventually succumbed to stress despite intense rescue efforts by Austria's Four Paws International. When most parts of the city went without water for two weeks, the hippos in the zoo nearly died as their pool dried up. Despite the risk to their lives, 15 zoo workers came in every day to feed and water the creatures as best they could, saving many of the animals from starvation.

Despite all the damage and turmoil, the country's new transitional leaders promise to continue to support the zoo, and the zoo's director, Dr. Abdulfatah Husni, hopes to re-establish exchanges around the world, which will help the workers to learn more about how to care for animals in captivity as well as welcome new animals.



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