Ukraine: Man refuses to abandon 400 animals in Kyiv shelter and would 'rather die' than leave them

Andrea Cisterno owns an animal rescue shelter in Kyiv and hasn’t left since the crisis broke out

Furvah Shah
Monday 28 February 2022 19:01 GMT
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A man in Ukraine has been called a “hero” for choosing to stay with the 400 animals in his shelter in Kyiv despite Russian invasion of the country.

Andrea Cisternino, a former photographer turned animal rescue owner from Rome, Italy said he would ‘rather die’ then leave the animals, which include dogs, cats, sheep and goats, at the refuge.

On his Facebook, Cisternino has been sharing updates on his situation to his 66,000 followers.

Italian-born Cisternino owns the shelter in Kyiv which he says is home to 400 animals.
Italian-born Cisternino owns the shelter in Kyiv which he says is home to 400 animals. (Andrea Cisternino/Facebook)

In a post on 24 February - the day Russian president Vladimir Putin began his invasion of Ukraine - 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.”

Despite seeing Russian military helicopters flying near and over his shelter, Cisternino has remained and has been posting regular updates on himself and his animals.

In one post from the first night of the invasion, 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.”

He accompanied it with an image of himself and one of the pigs staying at his shelter.

Cisternino posted regularly updates on his shelter since war broke out in the region
Cisternino posted regularly updates on his shelter since war broke out in the region (Andrea Cisternino/Facebook)

Cisternino last posted on 25 February, where he thanked his followers for their support amidst the ongoing crisis.

He has been described as a “hero” by his supporters. One user said: “All our solidarity, your pain is ours and we hope that all this absurdity will cease out of respect for human lives.”

According to an update from another Facebook user, Cisternino and his wife and three other people seeking refuge at the sanctuary are “fine” despite surrounding fighting and have supplies for themselves and their animals.

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