Following the abandonment of his winter estate near Kiev by Ukrainian ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, for the first time the general public could take a peek to see how the man lived. Among the findings: a golf course, a giant boat, several fancy cars, a spa, and a private zoo.
In the video above, BBC reporter Olga Ivshina reports from the zoo, which has since been opened to the public. Some have estimated that the estate holds at least 2000 animals, and that doesn't include all the pond-dwelling critters, like crayfish. Some of the larger inhabitants? Ostriches, deer, rabbits, antelopes, and peacocks. Goats and cows provided fresh milk to the President and his guests. There were pigs and sheep, which were also used for meat.
Now, the milk, along with vegetables from the estate's gardens, is being provided to protestors in Independence Square.
Every President needs one of these pic.twitter.com/IpDyROISD8— Matt Frei (@mattfrei) February 22, 2014
Here's the good news: the animals were actually treated quite well. The enclosures were clean, the food was of high quality, and there was a reasonable amount of space.
But the nearby Kiev Zoo doesn't have room to take in all the animals from the estate, and even if they did, one Kiev Zoo biologist interviewed in the above video admitted that conditions are not as good at the zoo as they are on the estate.
Yanukovych is of course not the first ruler to keep a private menagerie. One of the earliest belonged to Ptolemy Philadelphos, who amassed a sort of "living library" in Alexandria as a byproduct of his ongoing quest for war elephants.
What is to become of the abandoned animals? One possibility is to maintain the zoo where it is, and open it to the public. For now, Serhiy Hryhoryev, the former deputy director of the Kiev Zoo who oversaw the zoo for the now ex-President, is still onsite attempting to care for the animals. Non-profit organizations have stepped up to try to help keep the animals well fed.