GUNTUR: Giri Kumar Patil, a Telugu doctor stranded in Ukraine with his two pet panthers, was forced to leave his big cats and go to Poland in search of a job in order to feed them. Life has become tough for the orthopaedic doctor as his finances ran dry after the hospital he was working at was shut down in the aftermath of Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Famously known as JaguarKumar, Giri Kumar was living in the basement of his six-room, two-storey house with his pets — a jaguar, black panther, and three Italian mastiffs— in Severodonetsk when the Russian artillery pounded the city in southeastern Ukraine. An avid animal lover, he got the jaguar named Yagwar, from the Kyiv zoo. Later, he got the black panther, Sabrina, and has been raising them for the past two years.
In a telephonic conversation with TNIE, the 42-year-old doctor from West Godavari’s Tanuku said he sold his gold, 5 acres of land, house, 2 apartments, cars, and a bike to survive in the war-torn country and feed his big cats.
He recently built a bomb shelter for his pets to keep them safe after his repeated requests for help to bring back his pets to India were rejected by officials in Ukraine. With no money to feed his pets, Dr Patil was forced to go to Poland to get a job.
But on his way to Poland, he was detained by the Russian Army personnel while crossing the border and was held captive for three days. Recalling his horrible experiences, he said, “I was blindfolded and kept in a dark room for three days. They suspected me as a spy and that I was passing on information about their military activities to Ukraine officials. But when I explained my situation and showed them my YouTube channel, they let me go, but they confiscated all my documents.”
On September 14, he reached Poland. “The people are very sympathetic towards me and other refugees who crossed the border. We were given food and shelter at very reasonable prices considering our poor financial conditions,” he said.
But from the day after he reached Poland, the tensions at Severodonetsk increased as the Ukrainian Army made rapid gains and recaptured territory in the Russian-occupied region where his pets are left with a caretaker.
“I was so worried about them, as my caretaker informed me that the pets are not eating well and are longingly watching the gate through which I usually enter. But I have to earn some money to go back to them and administer the required vaccines,” he added.
Though it has been a fortnight since he reached Poland, Giri Kumar is finding it difficult to find a job. “As I can’t work as a doctor at any hospital in the European country, I’m searching for manual jobs that keep me afloat until I figure out something else,” he added.
After finding a stable job, Giri Kumar is planning to move to a safe place in Ukraine near the Poland border, so that he can be with his pets and still continue to work until normalcy is returned to the war-torn country.