For two decades, a Russian restaurant has allegedly kept several wild bears and forced them to drink beer in order to entertain customers. Many of the bears became sick as a result of subsisting on a diet of unhealthy food and booze, and eventually became dependent on alcohol. Now animal rights activists have taken action and justice may finally get served.
Prosecutors say the owner of the restaurant in Sochi, Russia, first adopted the bears as cubs and eventually allowed customers to give the bears booze and take photos with them. The spectacle, which attracted “droves” of visitors to the restaurant, was intended to make the diners “laugh.” Restaurant owner Dzheniks Uzaroshvili reportedly claimed “beer is good for them because they live in such a climate.”
Luckily, local community activists protested against the cruel conditions and now the bears have been taken into court custody. But their dependence on alcohol, and legal obstacles, pose problems for finding the creatures a new home.
“The animals definitely should not be held in such conditions,” said Sergey Zenkov head of the regional wildlife protection agency. “But there are many legal obstacles if someone wants to take them away, even with a court decision. We will consult with lawyers when we get the court decision.”
Capturing and force-feeding alcohol to bears to entertain customers is an old tradition in Russia that has died out in recent decades. Apparently, the cruel practice remained common in Ukraine, until the country’s environmental minister, Mykola Zlochevsky, spoke out against it just a few years ago. "How long can we tolerate animal torture in restaurants where drunken guests make bears drink vodka for laughs?" he said.
Hopefully, not long.
By May Willkerson 02/09/15
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