An Indian doctor is refusing to leave conflict-torn Ukraine without his pets — a panther and a jaguar. He has been spending four times more to feed them amid the war, BBC reported. Girikumar Patil, 40, from Andhra Pradesh lives in Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine’s rebel-held Donbas region. For over a week, he has been hiding in the basement of his home and steps out only to get food for his pets.
“My big cats have been spending nights in the basement with me,” Patil said. “There has been a lot of bombing happening around us. The cats are scared. They are eating less. I can’t leave them.”
Patil had bought the big cats from a zoo in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv for $ 35,000 nearly two years ago. He said the zoo sold animals to those who had sufficient space to house them.
“Now I am stuck in a war zone,” the doctor told BBC. “My parents have been calling me and asking me to come home, but I can’t leave the animals.”
“I called the (Indian) embassy but didn’t get a proper response. My place is surrounded by Russians but I’m trying my best. I treat them like my kids,” the Indian doctor told news agency ANI.
Patil said he was fascinated after watching the Chiranjeevi-starrer Lankeswarudu (1989), where the protagonist has a big cat as his companion, The New Indian Express reported. Then, he decided to keep wild animals as pets himself.
The Indian doctor has a YouTube channel named Jaguar Kumar Telugu where he frequently posts videos of his pets.
Over the past few weeks, thousands of Indians have been evacuated from Ukraine. Many refused to leave their pets behind and brought them along, with special permission from the government. One person came back home with five pets.