A Moscow petting zoo is suing a video studio, Art-Msk, that hired one of its raccoons and made what the zoo calls an “erotic” video.
Viktor Kiryukhin, a spokesman for the zoo that sometimes rents animals to filmmakers, told the BBC that they made a deal for Thomas the raccoon to be used in a regular commercial advertisement in August 2016. But when Thomas returned from the studio, he was traumatized. And disturbingly, Kiryukhin said, “We noticed he was attracted to women’s breasts.”
He believed that this suggested that Thomas was fed treats during the shoot while being exposed to naked breasts. The raccoon’s behavior since his return had unsettled female zoo staff, Kiryukhin said. “It took two to three months to change his behavior. Now he is happy again … but he was sad before,” he told the BBC.
When employees of the zoo saw the footage shot by the studio of Thomas on social media, featuring a naked model, they complained and asked for all video and photos to be withdrawn. The zoo then filed a lawsuit and demanded compensation for damages caused to the raccoon.
The video firm called the zoo’s lawsuit “absurd.” Art-Msk’s Valery Bogatov argued that the video was not erotic because it was destined to be broadcast on federal television. An erotic film would have been illegal to show on TV, he said.
Bogatov also said that the company had requested a trained animal, but got Thomas “who was young and ran off all the time.” He also claimed that the raccoon stole a model’s bra on set.
A nature-conservation group has backed the zoo’s cause in the raccoon case, but some Russian media have suggested the lawsuit is a public relations stunt.
Main photo: Raccoon [Wikimedia Commons]