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)
Updated 17 March 2017

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

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“Tomas came back withdrawn, always slept in the corner, and snapped at people,” zoo spokesman Viktor Kiryukhin said, according to The Telegraph.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.


First UAE sighting of one of the world’s rarest birds in Abu Dhabi 

Updated 20 September 2020

First UAE sighting of one of the world’s rarest birds in Abu Dhabi 

  • Known as a Steppe Whimbrel, the bird is estimated to have a global population of only around 100
  • It is believed to have travelled in time for the autumn bird migration

DUBAI: One of the rarest birds in the world has been spotted in Abu Dhabi by two members of the Emirates Bird Records Committee (EBRC), according to state news agency WAM. 
Known as a Steppe Whimbrel, the bird - estimated to have a global population of only around 100 - was seen by Oscar Campbell and Simon Lloyd at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Course, WAM reported on Saturday.
Believed to have travelled in time for the autumn bird migration, the Steppe Whimbrel is an extremely rare sub-species of the widespread Whimbrel, which regularly passes through the Emirates in spring and autumn.
The Steppe Whimbrel seen in Abu Dhabi is believed to have been born this year, making it the first time a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel has been spotted anywhere in the world, according to WAM.
“On August 29, we were studying around 20 whimbrels on the Saadiyat Beach golf course. We were stunned when one flew off showing the distinctive white wings, clearly different from the other birds,” Campbell and Lloyd told WAM. 
“We immediately realized the potential significance of this so we concentrated on observing the bird and obtaining photographs, allowing us to check the key identification features,” they said.
Campbell and Lloyd then shared their photographs with world’s top expert on Steppe Whimbrels, Gary Allport, who confirmed their findings. 
“The discovery of a Steppe Whimbrel in Abu Dhabi is remarkable in itself, and confirms our suspicion that the migration route of the sub-species passes through the Arabian peninsula region,” Allport said. 
“What is even more remarkable is that this is the first time ever, anywhere in the world, that a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel has been seen in the field…It’s an amazing find,” he added. 
The Saadiyat Beach Golf Course management was delighted with the discovery. 
“When you look at the significance of sighting the Steppe Whimbrel in Abu Dhabi, its history and the subspecies actually being declared extinct in 1995, it is pretty amazing,” Clinton Southorn, Cluster Director of Agronomy for managers Troon Golf, told WAM.
“This is one of the reasons the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club has worked hard to achieve its Audubon certification and showcase the positive environmental impact the course can have on the environment,” he added.