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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Eight Predators Die During a Northern Performance Tour

This morning, a friend from PETA contacted me and asked me to research the death of seven tigers and a lioness from a Russian circus. Exhausted after a long trip yesterday, I thought I'd do some quick research and go back to sleep. What I found out will keep me from sleeping for quite some time.

Here's a quick translation of the article that appears at


In Yakutsk, posters and banners advertising a New Year show with tigers are being pulled down. The performance tour of Krasnodar tent circus “The Dream,” which has been selling out, has been cancelled. On the way to Yarkutsk, seven tigers and one lioness have died. The legal authorities are trying to find out why this happened and who is responsible. One version says that the circus animals might have died of hypothermia. Another says that they were simply poisoned.

… “We were supposed to meet them here,” says director of Saharcircus Sergey Rastorguyev. “They selected the car on their own and came over, and when they got here, they realized something had happened on the way. Right now, we can’t give you exact information.”

The animals had spent several weeks traveling successfully around the country. They performed to sold out crowds in the Middle Eastern city of Habarovsk and the town of Nerungy in Yarkutsk. The tour organizers, employees of the Krasnodar tent circus “The Dream” decided to go to the northern-most circus by cars. But the 800-kilometer trip in a heated Kamaz refrigerator truck were lethal to the predators.

Investigators and criminal authorities are trying to determine the exact cause of death. Nikolay Sizyh, deputy director of the press department of the police department of the Saha Republic (Yakutia) says the following:

“Right now, we’re conducting a special investigation, after which the cause of death of the tigers will be known. Seven tigers and one lioness were being transported. The preliminary version points to food poisoning.”

One of the versions under consideration is poisoning by exhaust fumes. The animals might have run out of air in the crowded container. The owners of the predators have refused to comment. This is understandable: they are, after all, being accused of blatant disregard of rules of animal transportation.

This would have been the first show of this type in Yakutsk with the participation of seven tigers and one lioness. The ticket sales were brisk. Now, the entire New Year’s entertainment program is quickly being changed. But a worthy substitute to the dead animals will not be found.


Another article published by Maiak Radio adds that two of the tigers were protected Siberian tigers entered into the Red Book - Russia's registry of protected animals. It is against the law to use protected animals in circuses.

RIA News mentions the case in its Ecology section and links to a long, heartbreaking list of other cases of animals who've died in Russia during transportation. The article ends with these words:

“The exotic animals were transported in an unheated, unventilated container, and the personnel that was supposed to take care of the animals during transportation spent the whole trip getting drunk.”


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