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Belgorod activists protest against a contact zoo

by Tatyana Grigorieva
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The head of the public organization “Emergency Youth Aid”, Anton Androsov, held a single picket against contact zoos in front of the Lenta hypermarket in Belgorod. A contact zoo was temporarily located in the building. In a letter to the management of the store and the entire trading network, the public activist demanded to terminate the contract with the owners of the travelling zoo. A social activist told the visitors of the shop and the zoo what conditions animals are kept in for entertainment purposes.

According to Anton Androsov, the picket of "Emergency Youth Aid" against contact zoos will be termless. Previously, the organization launched a similar campaign and gathered signatures against travelling dolphinariums on January 5.

The activists told the «7x7» correspondent that two actions led to a new animal rights direction of the organization’s work (previously it was engaged in combating the sale of expired products, alcohol to minors, and also actively opposed sects and suicide propaganda). A few days before the New Year, Anton Androsov sent letters to the Belgorod head of Lenta and the general director of the network in St. Petersburg. The activist reminded them of the new law prohibiting contact zoos, and asked them to refuse to accept tours of travelling zoos in hypermarkets. The head has not yet received an answer, and the zoo, which arrived in Belgorod before the New Year, began its work in January.

On January 5, the security guards of the contact zoo did not allow the «7x7» correspondent to take pictures of animals inside the institution. Some of the inhabitants of the zoo were in cramped glassed-up cages, resembling ancient buffets, and some of the animals were outside — they were pet by visitors. Activists of the "Emergency Youth Aid" tried to get into the zoo before the opening, but could not. Zoodefenders said that it smelled badly near the zoo on the territory of the hypermarket. After that, the activists decided to write complaints to the supervisory authorities and demand to check the conditions of animals and find out whether they pose a danger to visitors.

"Animals are in terrible conditions. They are constantly under stress due to travel, due to being kept in small cells. Besides, they can not sleep properly, they have no shelter, as in a normal zoo, they can not rest! The animals are sitting with the lights on, and visitors squeeze them. And these are not domestic cats and dogs, but wild animals: monkeys, parrots, which are in terrible conditions," Anton Androsov told a «7x7» correspondent during the January 5 rally.

Anton Androsov stressed that for any animals, and even more so for wild ones, constant contact with people is a great stress, because monkeys and parrots, which are squeezed by adults and children, can be ill often. Also, animals can be overfed by visitors. Moreover, monkeys and parrots can infect visitors with dangerous diseases. The activist hopes that the supervisory authorities will check if the zoo organizers have all the necessary veterinary documents, including going through quarantine. Activists intend to hold pickets until the owners of the hypermarket terminate the contract with the organizers of the tour of the contact zoo.

"We intend to work not only at the regional level. My assistants and I are planning to establish contacts with zoo defenders from other cities and with our Belgorod Zoo, which moved out of the city, where they provided it with a huge territory. Now it looks like a safari park. If the leadership of the Belgorod Zoo agrees, we will try to save the animals from the contact zoos in different cities and send them to the Belgorod Zoo, in the best conditions," the zoodefender added.

Activists of the public organization "Emergency Youth Aid", which is headed by a former member of the Nashy movement, Anton Androsov, decided to ban the traveling dolphinariums and announced an termless single picketing near the dolphinarium, which came on tour to Belgorod. Anton Androsov intends to achieve amendments to the law “On Responsible Treatment of Animals”, which was signed on December 27 by President Vladimir Putin. Androsov decided to propose amendments prohibiting the activities of travelling dolphinariums throughout Russia.

Other activists wrote a petition against the dolphinarium and posted it on the Internet. The petition gathered more than 7.5 thousand signatures. After publication of the petition against the travelling dolphinarium and pickets near the ticket office of this dolphinarium, the prosecutor's office of the Belgorod region began an inspection.

Dolphinarium is installed near the shopping center "City Mall" in the Belgorod region. According to the Kontur.Focus system, one of the founders of the SEC is Olga Savchenko, daughter of the Belgorod governor. After the negative reviews about the dolphinariums in social networks and the publication of articles about the picket against the dolphinariums, the Belgorod TV channel Mir Belogoriya shot a positive story about the institution’s activities.

The Law on the Responsible Handling of Animals prohibits the activities of contact zoos, but the ban will begin to operate from 2020. In November 2018, a giraffe died in the Belgorod stationary zoo, and in 2016, a cougar died during transportation from the old zoo to a new one.

Tatyana Grigorieva, «7x7»


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