Volunteers raced to the aid of animals left to die at Wadi Bai, Muammar Gaddafi's animal farm west of Sirte. Rare-breed camels, hybrid cattle, and hundreds of ostriches were among the abandoned animals. Reuters' Deborah Lutterbeck reports:
"Fighters loyal to Libya's interim government found around 500 ostriches on the site, abandoned without food or water."
Rebel commander Abu Bakr Essa told Reuters that the ostriches' numbers had diminished from around 1,000. Belgasem Al Sosi, a veterinarian now caring for the animals, said that many had died from hunger and thirst, and that "several lay collapsed in one sweltering pen, either dead and rotting or too weak to stand."
This is not the only menagerie Gaddafi left behind when he fled the country. In September, CNN's Nic Robertson found starving lions pacing in their cages in Tripoli Zoo. According to The Times Of Malta, "a Siberian tiger -- called Osama -- died because of stress and also because of its age. The Hippos barely survived because of the shortage of water, but they are now recovering." The Times Of Malta reports that several animal welfare organizations are now providing aid to the zoo.
Between Gaddafi and his sons, the family has a rather extensive collection of animals. According to The Guardian, Saadi Gaddafi personally owned nine lions in Tripoli zoo, and son Saif al-Islam kept exotic animals at his farmhouse.
Watch Reuters' report below: