- The owner of a zoo in Crimea has put 30 bears up for adoption in an attempt to save them from euthanasia because he can’t afford to keep them.
- Oleg Zubkov — known as “Lion Man” — founded the Taigan Lion Park in the city of Simferopol in 2006 to house ex-circus and captivity animals.
- But opposition from local authorities and slumping ticket sales mean he can’t afford to feed the some 2,500 wild bears, lions, and tigers in his care.
- “Bears are just the first stage. Eventually, there will be a sale of the rest of my collection,” Zubkov said.
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The owner of a zoo in Russian-controlled Crimea has put up 30 bears for adoption, saying he can’t afford to feed them and will have to put them down if new homes can’t be found.
Oleg Zubkov founded the Taigan Lion Park in the city of Simferopol in 2006 to house ex-circus and captivity animals, but has struggled to keep the park financially viable in recent years.
In a video posted to his “Lion Man” YouTube channel on Wednesday, Zubkov said his 2,500 lions, tigers, and bears consume 3,500 tonnes of food a day, and he couldn’t afford to feed them all for much longer.
“Twelve lions and tigers will be moved to other zoos shortly, and a final decision will be made about … shooting 30 bears from the park,” he said, according to a translation from The Daily Telegraph.
“I’m forced into these extreme measures because there are no other options left.”
The zoo has faced opposition from animal rights activists, and Zubkov says he has been slapped with fines by Russian authorities since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The lease for the land he rents to house his animals has not been renewed, Zubkov wrote on his blog on October 5.
“I’m disgusted with this decision and I’m very sorry because I’ve been collecting and saving these species for a long time,” he told The Moscow Times on Friday.
Zubkov said that he would put up his lions and tigers for adoption next: “Bears are just the first stage. Eventually, there will be a sale of the rest of my collection.”
A petition to save the Taigan Lion Park from closure had 72,000 signatories as of Monday morning.