But where officials and the owner turned their backs, locals stood up to help. According to Allen, a local elderly couple, Hovhamnes and Alvina Madoyan, stumbled on the remains of the zoo and couldn't bear to let the animals waste away and die.
"I lost my job, I had nothing, my wife and I were walking by the deserted zoo when we heard these terrible cries of animals in torment," Hovhamnes told Allen, according to a statement released by the photographer. "We came in to see the lioness and her cub literally frothing at the mouths from lack of water."
Since then Madoyan and his wife, Alvina, have dedicated their lives to caring for the animals. Though the couple is retired and of limited income, they moved into a nearby shack and feed the animals with what little scraps of food they can find.