Oleg Zubkov steals raccoons and other animals from Kherson Zoo


Russia’s military is notorious for looting across Ukraine, looting washing machines, electronics, cultural artifacts and even the bones of Empress Catherine II’s lover. But the latest theft — including seven raccoons, two female wolves, peacocks, a llama and a donkey from the Kherson Zoo — has entered the realm of farce.

The Taigan Lion Park, a private Crimean zoo owned by Oleg Zubkov, was filmed grabbing raccoons by their tails and forcing them into cages in a YouTube video titled “We’re in Kherson.” Oleg Shubkov catches raccoons with his bare hands!!!”

Video, which was not available Sunday, showed the llama with two attendants being loaded into a dilapidated, windowless van. Another video uploaded on Sunday showed two wolves from the Kherson zoo being unloaded at a Crimean zoo, with two Russian television channels filming the event. He called it a “temporary eviction.”

“It will be great for wolves here: big territory, Crimean sun, besides, after isolation, they will get a male,” said Chubkov. “It was their dream to live here,” he said in comments to Russian media on YouTube.

He said the animals, including wolf cubs, would be returned after Russia reoccupied Kherson.

“For us it’s a humanitarian mission. These animals have no zoological value to us. We have our own wolves. We have 75 raccoons. We can make canned raccoon meat,” he said before guffawing in what appeared to be a bad joke. “Sorry. But seriously, we have a lot of raccoons, but we took these animals to keep them alive so that the residents of Gerson will be happy to see them alive again. The animals are in good hands.

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Ukraine’s Defense Ministry released a video and warned of retaliation for raccoon theft.

Ukrainian troops retook the strategic southern city last week after a Russian retreat. Kherson was one of the first major cities to fall in the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion that began in February. Liberation was greeted with celebration in the streets after months of Russian occupation.

The culling of the animals was widely reported in the Russian media and portrayed as a small bright spot in an otherwise dark picture. When the nationalist Russian poet and blogger Anna Dolkareva boasted in a Telegram that Kherson was the “only good news” about Moscow’s capitulation, it came to light that her friend Kherson had managed to “steal a raccoon” from the zoo.

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“We will not return the raccoon,” Tolkareva said. “We will take back Gerson.”

The raccoon Telegram channel, he said, was set up by raccoon from Kherson.

Ukrainian animal activist Oleksandr Todorchuk confirmed the report on Facebook.

Chubkov, who calls himself Lion Man, was charged with negligence in September 2021 after one of his tigers bit a 1-year-old boy’s finger. He was sentenced to two years and three months in prison and served two months. An occupation court overturned the sentence on October 27 and released him shortly after, provided he never left the area. Shubkov said Sergei Aksyonov, the Kremlin-appointed head of Crimea, intervened to ensure he could travel to Kherson to pick up the animals.

Last month, Vladimir Zalto, Russia’s designated head of administration in Kherson, said Russia had taken Grigory Potemkin’s bones from his grave in Kherson. Potemkin, an 18th-century Russian military figure, annexed Crimea, founded the city, administered Russia’s imperial lands in the region, and built the Black Sea Fleet. He was also known as the lover and close protector of Empress Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great.

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The loss of Kherson shattered Putin’s war aims in Ukraine

Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of removing disabled children and taking prisoners of war from Kherson to Crimea and Russia. Local independent media channels broadcast videos of buses, fire engines, construction equipment and a small train with children’s boxes – all of which were evacuated from Kherson in the days before the city of Moscow surrendered.

Kherson’s Kremlin-appointed administration removed hundreds of valuable works of art and icons from the Kherson Art Museum, emptying the gallery from October 31 to November 3, packing the works, wrapped in rags, into unmarked vans and transporting them to Crimea before the Russians. Nov. According to museum staff in a Facebook post on 4, Kherson surrendered.

“They call it ‘evacuation.’

Russian forces also stole four official cars of the medical center, hospital computer equipment, medicines, civilian cars, boats and hunting weapons, police said.

Ukrainian authorities have accused Russia of looting or damaging hundreds of Ukrainian cultural institutions during the war.

According to Ukrainian officials, Russian forces mined buildings and blew up a television tower, communications towers and bridges in central Kherson. Local media reported that witnesses said they saw the Russians removing building materials, furniture and household appliances from Kherson.


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