Who is Andrea Cisternino? Ukrainian 'hero' refuses to leave 400 animals in war-hit Kyiv
An animal shelter owner in Kyiv says he would 'rather die' than leave his rescued animals alone
Andrea Cisternino, a Ukrainian man has been labeled a “hero” for not leaving 400 animals alone in his shelter in the war-hit city of Kyiv. The former fashion photographer-turned-animal rescue shelter owner who is originally from Rome, Italy is being widely applauded for his decision of choosing to stay with the animals in his shelter. Cisternino said he would “rather die” than leave his family of animals including dogs, cats, sheep, pigs, and goats.
Seven days into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Cisternino has been sharing the details of his situation with his army of 66K followers on Facebook. In a post on 24 February, of day 1 of the invasion, he said, “I will die here for my animals… I have to think about saving a refuge and it’s 400 guests who deserve to be protected at any cost.”
Heartbreaking images show the terrible toll Russian invasion is taking on Ukrainian families
Despite the Russian air force blitzing several civilian areas and hovering over and near his shelter, Cisternino remains undeterred and regular in posting updates of him and his animals from the shelter. During the first night of the Russian invasion, he revealed how the city was under all-day curfew and the precautionary power cuts amid Russian airstrikes.
On February 24, night, he said, “Here the is curfew from 10pm to 7pm, everything is shut off, sheltering in the dark, houses with few lights, dark here, more explosions a little while ago, let’s hope for a peaceful night.” and added a picture of him along with a pig staying at his shelter. One Facebook user wrote “All our solidarity, your pain is ours and we hope that all this absurdity will cease out of respect for human lives.”.
He also posted a picture of a reportedly Russian aircraft hovering near the shelter with the caption "10 minutes ago they flew over the Refuge two military jets and a war helicopter, Oksana said that one of the Jets was firing, 30 km from us there is an airport where this morning at 5.00 a.m. they bombed."
Cisternino’s last posted on February 25, where he shared a post thanking all his followers for their support during the ongoing war. As per a Facebook user Cisternino, his wife, along with three other people are currently seeking refuge at the shelter and are doing “fine” despite the crisis and have enough supplies for themselves and animals.
When you think of animals, it's not just about household pets, even those in animal sanctuaries and zoos are dependent on help. Reports suggest animals from the Save Wild bear sanctuary near Kyiv were transported to Poland, where a zoo has offered them refuge for the duration of the war. Staff at the Kyiv zoo reportedly said their animals may not be able to evacuate. However, in a show of solidarity in these difficult times, Romania has allowed even unvaccinated pets from Ukraine to enter their country, Poland and Hungary too have also relaxed their requirements, allowing animals to enter without a microchip, tattoo or vaccinations, claims PETA.
Photos and videos of Ukraine citizens sheltering their pets and fleeing with them have been going viral on social media, ever since the attack began. A user shared a number of pictures where Ukrainians can be seen carrying their pets while they tried to flee the war-hit country.
This is what unconditional love looks like. Animals would never forsake us in the face of horror, injustice, and despair. My heart goes out to the pets left behind in Ukraine in shelters and homes across the country. 💔 pic.twitter.com/ft3ptAAetN— Orge Castellano (@orgecastellano) February 26, 2022