One and a half hundred dead ostriches, dozens of dead buffaloes, rams, llamas. What happened to the Yasnohorodka family ecopark, located 30 km from Kyiv
“We all cried. Out of 300 ostriches, 160 remained and 150 ungulates – about 50 “, recalls the deputy director of the Yasnogorodskaya ostrich farm, Alexander Mashchenko, 51. It was one of the largest such farms in Ukraine. But when, in late March, the army allowed Mashchenko and his team to return to Yasnogorodka, in addition to the animal carcasses, they saw a homeless office building, a windowless restaurant and burned-out hotel houses. in depth. How did the ostrich farm live under bombing and occupation?
The first bombardment of Yasnogorodka began on 27 February. The village is located 30 km from Kyiv. Every day the density of the fire was growing. “We were here until March 2,” recalls Mashchenko. “We took care of the animals, we slept in the cellar.” Then the Ukrainian army came and gave them two hours to pack up and evacuate. The next morning there was heavy bombardment by Grads and five soldiers were killed.
Briefly about the Yasnogorodskaya ostrich farm
It is one of the largest ostrich farms in Ukraine. In total, there are about 60 farms in the country. Farm owner Andrey Akimenko bought the first ostriches in Belgium in 2000. Three species of birds were bred here: the African ostrich (largest), the American ostrich (smaller) and the Australian ostrich (smaller and more aggressive). According to Pro-Consalting analyst Andrey Mokryakov, the profitability of a farm can be 10-20%, depending on livestock. Yasnogorodka Ecopark had its own restaurant, where you could try an ostrich egg omelette for 140 UAH or an ostrich meat pendant for almost 600 UAH. According to Mokryakov, the average cost of an ostrich fillet or steak on the market is 650-750 UAH per kilogram and an egg is 450 UAH.
“Hell started here on March 6. They were beaten with Grads. “Everything around was burned,” Mashchenko said. There were four hotel houses, a boiler room and a utility room. There were charred structures and black remnants of the foundation. They are irreversible.
One of the shells hit the shed, where 1,000 hay bales and about 70 tonnes of feed were stored. These stocks would be enough for six months, but they burned within minutes.
“But the most tragic loss is the animals,” says Mashchenko. “We were able to come and evacuate some animals from the zoo once,” he said. The animals were loaded onto cattle trucks and taken out with a military escort. “The ostriches did not come out because, firstly, they are many and secondly, they are difficult to transport,” he explains. For those who did not get them out, they opened outdoor cages. Some of the animals managed to escape. Deer, mouflon and hedgehogs went to the forest. Peacocks hid in the neighboring henhouses. The ostriches, if they could, took refuge in the forest or in neighboring villages, but most remained in the park and became human targets for the Russian army. “These holes are all from shell fragments,” Mashchenko points to gray holes in the green grass in the ostrich housing. A hole – at least one death.
The fleeing animals had nothing to eat. The grass has not yet appeared and the food cart has been bombed. Mashchenko agreed with locals living in dachas near Yasnogorodka to come and scatter food. “If they were not bombing, then they came and fed the animals, if they were bombing, then no,” Mashchenko recalled. “We learned from them about the condition of the park.”
Park officials were the first to return to Yasnogorodka and begin restoring the park. “The people who lived in the village have not returned yet, but we are already here,” says Mashchenko. First, the army checked the area for mines and then helped bury the animals and remove debris. The deputy director does not talk about where and how the birds were buried. “You do not need it,” he says. “We have to focus on life.”
After clearing the area, the animals began to return. “They were happy to be back,” says Mashchenko. For example, the Senka camel, as soon as it got out of the truck, went to its enclosure alone. The fleeing animals were lured with barley: they left the forest, ate and then returned to the area.
The war “liberated” 20% of the enclosures. Now the Yasnogorodskaya ostrich farm is ready to house temporary animals from other farms and zoos located in “hot” places.
“We will measure after the war,” Mashchenko said of the damage. The farm, whose revenue in 2020 amounted to 1.4 million UAH, now earns nothing. The company’s expenses have been reduced to a minimum. Of the 50 people in the state, 10 employees remained working. They focused on animal care. They heal, prepare for the fact that ostriches will begin to lay eggs and it will be possible to rehabilitate the animals. The money for the maintenance of the park is given by the owners – the Akimenko family (father Andrey and two sons – Artem and Akim). Approximately 800,000 UAH per month is required for the maintenance of the farm. In one year, a female can give birth to 40 offspring, which means that the Yasnogorodok Ecopark can return the pre-war number of ostriches in a year and a half, says Mokryakov. According to him, if you buy young ostriches, then you will need at least 500,000 UAH to renew the livestock.
Mashchenko is thinking about how to remodel the farm. Something new is going to be built in the place of the destroyed buildings. For example, next to the burned houses of the hotel, a small field was laid where barley will be grown, which means that they will buy less feed. They plan to build a children’s tent, where children will play sports and learn how to take care of animals. “We will introduce the children to the job,” says the deputy director.
Now the farm is open to everyone for free. Ads with QR code are posted in the park for those who want to support the farm and “donate” for animal feed. The workers have already held a festival of locals and volunteers. They called the musicians, the tables were set. “We do something like emotional rehabilitation for both humans and animals,” says Mashchenko. ».
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