Raccoons, peacocks and llamas are among the animals now being caught up in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as a video emerges of a Russian zookeeper cruelly stuffing them into bags to steal from the country. An assortment of animals has reportedly been stolen from Kherson Zoo, after a video was shared on YouTube of Oleg Zubkov, owner of the Crimean Taigan Lion Park, inexpertly grabbing the animals by their tails to whisk them away. The city of Kherson had been the only major city Russia had managed to successfully capture – but was liberated by Ukraine last week. According to the Washington Post, seven raccoons, two female wolves, peacocks, a llama and a donkey were among the animals swiped from the zoo.
The YouTube video proudly declared in its title: “We are in Kherson. Oleg Zubkov catches raccoons with BARE HANDS!!!”
It showed Zubkov with two assistants, manhandling a llama into a windowless van, while dogs bark in the background. The video also shows him picking up raccoons by their titles and stuffing them in a bag, and a second clip shows wolves arriving in Taigan Lion Park having been stolen from Kherson.
Describing the theft as a “temporary evacuation,” Zubkov claimed to Russian media: “It will be much better for the wolves here: large territory, Crimean sun, and besides, after the quarantine, they will get a male. It’s been their dream to live here.”
He added that it was a “humanitarian mission”, and that the animals carried no “zoological value for us”.
In an awkward attempt at humour, Zubkov boasted that their zoo was already well-stocked with animals, claiming: “We have 75 raccoons. We could make canned raccoon meat”.
Despite the ill-treatment depicted in the video, the zookeeper insisted the animals were “in good hands”, and said the wolves would be returned if Russia re-occupied Kherson – although the other animals would likely remain where they are.
Ukraine’s Defence Ministry, sharing the video, strongly condemned it, saying: “The occupiers stole everything from Kherson: paintings from art galleries, antiquities from museums, historic manuscripts from libraries. But their most prized loot was a raccoon they stole from a zoo. Steal a raccoon and Die.”
Zubkov had previously been convicted of negligence after one of his tigers bit a one-year-old boy’s finger off. After being sentenced to two years and three months behind bars, he served just two months under the condition that he did not leave Crimea.
READ MORE: Up to 15 percent of Russian forces still trapped in city of Kherson [REVEAL]
Unmarked vans carried the artworks to Crimea before the Kremlin surrendered the city, according to a Facebook post from museum staff on November 4.
The post said: “They call it ‘evacuation.’ In our language, it’s ‘looting.’”
Kherson police have announced an investigation into the theft, although current efforts are predominantly focused on securing the city.
Police also reported that Russian forces had stolen four official cars of a medical centre, hospital computer equipment, medicines, civilians’ cars, boats and hunting weapons.
Other Ukrainian cultural institutions have also come to harm during the war, with Ukrainian officials claiming that Russians blew up a television tower, communications towers and bridges in central Kherson.
Today a resolution by the UN General Assembly called for Russia to be held accountable for its invasion of Ukraine and sought to help Kyiv catalogue various crimes and damages committed by the dictatorship.