Despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a man in Kyiv has been dubbed a “hero” for choosing to stay with the 400 animals in his shelter.
Andrea Cisternino, a former photographer turned animal rescue owner from Rome, claimed he’d sooner die’ than leave the animals at the shelter, which include dogs, cats, sheep, and goats.
Cisternino’s 66,000 Facebook followers have been receiving updates on his predicament via his Facebook page.
“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,” he wrote on February 24th, the day Putin began his invasion of Ukraine.
Despite Russian military helicopters flying close to and above his refuge, Cisternino has stayed and posted regular updates on himself and his animals.
“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 said in one post from the first night of the invasion.
He also included a photo of himself and one of the pigs who live at his shelter.
Cisternino’s most recent message was on February 25, in which he thanked his fans for their support during the ongoing turmoil.
His followers have referred to him as a “hero.” “All our solidarity, your pain is ours,” one user said, “and we hope that all this absurdity will cease out of respect for human lives.”
Cisternino, his wife, and three other individuals seeking refuge at the sanctuary, according to another Facebook user, are “fine” despite the surrounding fighting and have food for themselves and their animals.
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