For the love of felines: Can’t leave Ukraine without big cats, says Andhra Pradesh doctor | Deccan Herald

Clipped from: https://www.deccanherald.com/national/for-the-love-of-felines-cant-leave-ukraine-without-big-cats-says-andhra-pradesh-doctor-1088987.html

His feline friends are a leopard and a black panther

Dr Kumar says it's not just the question of his safety or survival but that of "my precious big cats". Credit: Screengrab/ANIDr Kumar says it’s not just the question of his safety or survival but that of “my precious big cats”. Credit: Screengrab/ANI

He is in the midst of danger, a war at that, but still Dr Bandi Giri Kumar is unconcerned about his safety, as much as he is bothered about the well being of his pet ‘cats’–Yagwar and Sabina.

His feline friends are a leopard and a black panther, even as Dr Kumar is confined to the basement of his apartment in Donbas region in the war-hit Ukraine, with Italian dogs also in company.

Dr Kumar says it’s not just the question of his safety or survival but that of “my precious big cats”. “I am left with the only option of fending myself and my cats until finding a silver lining with God’s Grace. God is Great,” Kumar, hailing from Tanuku in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, said on Monday, in a chat with PTI from Donbas.

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“I want to make it very clear to everyone concerned that it is just not my safety or survival or evacuation, but it’s more about the safety and survival of my precious big cats. I treat them as my own kids as I brought them when they were very little and orphaned,” Kumar said about his pet Leopard Yagwar, and Black Panther, christened Sabrina.

He adopted a sick Yagwar from a zoo in 2020 while Sabrina is just a couple of months in his care.

A practicing orthopedic, Kumar stays alone in Donbas with the Jaguar species as company, along with Italian dogs.

Donbas is one of the worst-hit areas in Ukraine in the ongoing conflict with Russia.

“I have been rearing the near-extinct and quite neglected Jaguar species with a fervent motto and a strong mission. It’s just that I devoted my life to them and I can’t imagine myself without them whatsoever, until my last breath,” he said in a pride and compassion-filled tone.

Replying to a question, Kumar said officials of either Ukraine or India had not spoken to him about taking care of the big cats.

“To re-locate or rehabilitate them to India, in a bid to evacuate me, is a Herculean task as it involves obtaining a lot of licences, permissions and providing required enclosure… it is quite unlikely,” he said.

Right now he has some food left, but that is not much.

YSR Congress MP V Vijayasai Reddy hailed the “human-animal bond” between the doctor and his pets.

“Truly, the power of a human-animal bond is fascinating. It is pleasing to know that Dr Kumar Bandi, a native of Tanuku in AP, stayed back in #Ukraine as he did not want to leave behind his 2 big pet cats – a leopard & a black panther – at the mercy of others in a war-torn country,” he tweeted. 

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