Wild bears were forced to get drunk in order to entertain Russian restaurant diners – with the bears becoming alcoholics in the process, animal rights activists claim. The bears were reportedly living in filthy, small cages for two decades.
One of the two alcoholic Russian bears are also now reportedly blind and in need of continued medical treatment due to their junk food diet and deplorable living conditions. The Russian restaurant owner who allegedly kept the drunken bears to make his diners “laugh” is also accused of charging tourists for photos with the wild animals.
Prosecutors also maintain that the Sochi restaurant owner allowed diners to give booze directly to the caged bears. Court officials have now claimed custody of the bears after community outcry over the conditions in which the alcoholic Russian bears were living.
Krasnodar regional wildlife protection agency head Sergey Zenkov said re-homing the bears could pose significant problems due to the health of the bears. One of the Russian bears was reportedly blinded because drivers paring outside the small cages deliberately pointed their headlights at the bears to wind them up and get a reaction from the animals.
“The animals definitely should not be held in such conditions. 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,” Sergey Zenkov said.
The two alcoholic Russian bears are believed to have arrived at the Patskha-Guria restaurant in Sochi as cubs 20 years ago. Restaurant owner Dzheniks Uzaroshvili initially just charged diners and tourists to have their pictures taken with the bears cubs, keeping them in a small pen.
But, as bear do, the cubs grew a whole lot larger and could no longer be held. Sturdy, yet small, metal cages were built to house the bears just outside of the Russian restaurant. Visitors would come to the Sochi eating establishment to see the wild bears attraction in droves, so the owner reportedly began allowing the guests to put out beer and food to feed the bears.
“Beer is good for them because they live in such a climate,” Uzaroshvili reportedly said. Not everyone in the community agreed that booze was part of an appropriate diet for bears and protests ensued outside of the Patskha-Guria restaurant.
“Nobody has ever done a normal veterinary examination of these bears. They do not get proper food, they do not have clean water, and there is only a stinking liquid, consisting of a small amount of water and animals’ own urine. There are also people who make fun of the poor animals. Visitors of the restaurant regularly give the bears alcoholic beverages to drink and feed them with chips, cakes and other unsuitable food,” a Sochi resident identified only as Natalie, said about the mistreatment of the bears.
Bears were named as the official mascot of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
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[Images via: Twitter and East2West News]