Drs. Igal Horowitz (L) and Nili Avni-Magen (second from L) in Tbilisi. (MFA) (MFA)
Israeli vets Tbilisi

Tbilisi flooding

People in Tbilisi assisting a hippopotamus that was shot with a tranquilizer dart after it escaped from the flooded zoo. (AP/Tinatin Kiguradze)

Israel to the rescue again! This time, vets will help the devastated zoo in Tbilisi to get back on its feet. 

Last week’s intense flooding in Tbilisi, Georgia, including at the zoo, prompted a team of Israeli veterinarians to fly to the Georgian capital to help zoo officials contend with the resulting tragedy.

At least 19 people have lost their lives in the flooding, including three zookeepers. Many of the animals, including lions, tigers, bears and wolves, drowned or escaped to the city streets, where they were shot and killed to protect the local population.

All of the lions and tigers that were missing have been found dead. One jaguar remained unaccounted for, but zoo staff said they have little hope that it survived. The discovery of the last of the missing lions and tigers on Tuesday,, as the waters receded eased fears in the ex-Soviet republic that some were still wandering the hills of the city.

Dr. Igal Horowitz, head veterinarian of the Ramat Gan Safari and director of the Israeli Wildlife Hospital, landed in Tbilisi Monday night along with the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo’s head veterinarian, Dr. Nili Avni-Magen, on a trip sponsored by the Israeli foreign ministry.

In addition to providing advice to zoo officials, they brought antibiotics, sedatives and other medical supplies to replace those destroyed by the flood. They will help rescue and treat the estimated 300 animals that remain in the zoo.

Georgian authorities expressed gratitude to Israel for the aid. Israel also expressed willingness to help in the reconstruction of the zoo.

Israel habitually lends assistance to countries hit by natural disasters around the globe. Most recently, a 250-member team saved many lives and delivered eight babies during the IDF rescue mission to earthquake-stricken Nepal.