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Russian zoo sues ad agency for ‘traumatizing’ raccoon in racy photo shoot

The zoo is suing the firm for damage they say the shoot has done to the entire species. (Reuters)
DUBAI: A zoo in Moscow is suing an advertising agency that used one of its animals in a racy photo shoot.
Tomas the raccoon returned to the zoo “traumatized” after posing with a naked woman during the shoot with Moscow-based studio Art-Msk last year, zoo representatives said.
The privately-run zoo called Animals Aren’t Toys is now suing the firm for Tomas’ experience and the damage they say the shoot has done to the entire species.
“The plaintiff considers it unacceptable to use a raccoon in video and photographs with a naked woman,” the zoo said in a suit.
“By photographing him with a naked woman, the defendant has caused damage to the raccoon population. Now everyone who sees this video or photographs will directly associate raccoons with erotica,” adds the document, which was filed in Moscow’s Nikolinsky district court on Tuesday.
Zoo staff said that Art-Msk hired Tomas for a photo shoot in August 2016 but did not reveal that he would be posing alongside a woman in the nude.
However, a backstage video of the shoot shows a blonde woman playing tug-of-war with the animal in bed, over what seems to be her lingerie.
“Tomas came back withdrawn, always slept in the corner, and snapped at people,” zoo spokesman Viktor Kiryukhin said, according to The Telegraph.
“Furthermore, we began to notice that he reached for women’s breasts. We think to perform several takes the film crew lured him onto the actress’ chest with treats. Now he thinks he can always expect a treat near women’s breasts.”
The head of Art-Msk’s video marketing department Valery Bogatov said the claim was “absurd” and added that the video was never meant to be erotic as it was intended to be shown on national television.
“The raccoon himself grabbed the actress’s bra and ran under the bed. Originally we asked for a trained animal, because raccoons are generally unmanageable. But we were given this — he was young and constantly ran away. After several takes he stole the underwear and chewed it,” he told Tabloid site Life News.
“When the zoo told us they would sue us, we told them we’d file our own suit for the cost of the bra,” Bogatov later told The Telegraph.
“I said it as a joke, because I thought they were joking too. Now it seems it is serious,” he said. “I’d like to make absolutely clear we never violated any animal rights,” he added.

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