Ex-Kiev Zoo chief probed for embezzlement

Ukrainian prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation against the former head of the Kiev Zoo, where hundreds of animals have died or gone mysteriously missing in recent years.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that Svitlana Berzina is suspected of embezzling some $47,000 (€32,000) from the zoo by commissioning projects that weren't fully carried out, if at all.

Berzina was fired last year after nearly one-half of the zoo's animals either died or disappeared. Rights groups claimed the deaths were caused by mistreatment, with rare animals illegally sold off to private collectors.

Berzina, who has been put in charge of another animal welfare agency, declined to comment on the probe.

International animal welfare groups have long called for the Kiev Zoo to be closed down due to its horrendous conditions.