Russian veterinary officials tranquilized a group of monkeys, originally from Tallinn Zoo, and left at least one baboon dead at the Yalta's Skazka Zoo in the occupied territory of Ukraine, the Moscow Times reported.
The veterinary service officials suspected that the targeted monkeys may have contracted tuberculosis and aimed to collect samples from the sleeping animals, but instead left one baboon dead and several others, including Japanese macaques in a critical condition, the daily said.
The owner of the zoo Oleg Zubkov wrote in his blog that the primates had been perfectly healthy and had come from a zoo in the Estonian capital with all the appropriate documentation. "This new Crimean reality never stops surprising one with its disrespect toward businessmen and the strangeness of its laws that allow people in uniform to do anything they want," Zubkov said.
According to various reports, Zubkov had initially supported the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, but is now in a conflict with the occupying authorities, who are accusing him of smuggling animals and say they are a danger to the public. Apparently, he has been offered to move his animals to Portugal instead.
“Here in Crimea, they don’t allow to build anything. No one cares and will not care about my project unless the government changes. I should develop, I should build new parks. If I am not allowed to build them in the Crimea, I'm going to build them abroad," he said to Krym Media in November.
Ukrainian journalist Myroslava Petsa tweeted last year that Zubkov's change of heart was caused by a visit of Russian "self-defense" raiders. “Not clear why he didn't set his lions at them,” Petsa wrote.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March last year and hundreds of businesses have since been seized in a sometimes violent "nationalization" process.
Yalta Skazka Zoo has been operating since 1995 and has been visited by over 1.5 million people. 120 species of animals from different continents inhabit the zoo and many of them are listed in the International Red Book.
Tallinn Zoo was founded in 1939 and houses over 13,000 animals representing 548 species.
Editor: S. Tambur