In 2003 while the US armed forces were invading the Iraqi capital, a Zululand conservationist undertook a wartime rescue of the Baghdad Zoo and all its animals.
In his book, Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo, Lawrence Anthony describes how he, “along with the zoo’s former deputy director and several brave workers, risked daily danger to save the bears, lions, tigers, monkeys and birds.” -Publisher’s Weekly
“It was crazy, but I think it was important. It’s not important that you go and save some lions and some tigers in the greater scheme of biodiversity, but what it showed is that these animals need to be treated properly and I hope it set some sort of example.”
The series of events resulted in a proposed resolution that has been presented to the United Nations. The “Wildlife in War Zones Resolution” dictates that an invading army becomes responsible for any enclosed wildlife; all zoos, nature reserves and veterinary facilities must be accorded the same status as hospitals and schools during war. Under the resolution, the wilful destruction of natural habitats and the non-abidance of these tenements can be considered war crimes.
Besides the amazing story of the Baghdad Zoo, Anthony also authored the book, The Elephant Whisperer. about rescuing a herd of dangerous ‘rogue’ elephants from execution, and his determination to calm their demeanor on his wildlife reserve after their matriarch and her baby were shot.
For more on Lawrence Anthony, visit www.lawrenceanthony.co.za