A female five month old endangered Siberian tiger cub named Crystal, was heavily drugged and paraded around as a status symbol, on the opening night of the new Vladivostok Casino: Tigre de Cristal, in Russia.
Casino spokespeople have freely confessed to drugging the young cub, saying that because she was too small for an injection, they fed her a bottle laced with sedatives, leaving her so heavily drugged she was rendered semi-conscious.
Outrage broke out after publicity photographs were published which showed the semi-conscious cub hanging in people’s arms. Vladivostok police are investigating what medication was given to the cub.
The Casino bought the tiger cub for 450,000 roubles (US$6,800), and transported her 7,800 kilometres from Ufa Zoo to Vladivostok, just three days before parading the young cub through the casino.. The cub is currently housed at a private zoo near Ussuriysk, where she is on call for the casino to parade out for future “themed” parties.
Casino organizers were accused of ‘torturing’ the cub and ‘mocking animals,’ parading a young cub in a heavily crowded environment with loud music and bright lights. Protesters labelled the publicity stunt as ‘cheap glamour.’ Local Vladivostok resident Irina Butkovskaya said: “It was very frustrating that the casino began with a crime, of animal abuse.”
The new casino aims to tap into the massive Asian gambling market. Vice governor of Primorsky region Sergey Nekhaev has confirmed plans for more casinos to be opening soon in the new ‘gaming’ zone.
Tigers are considered a national treasure in Russia, therefore the new casino received a lot of negative publicity since opening night, because of the abuse toward the cub.
In the 1930s there were only 20 to 30 Siberian Tigers left in the wild, after they were hunted to near extinction. Although heavily protected now, there are still only around 360 individual tigers left in the wild. The constant demand for Tiger Bone and other body parts of tigers used in traditional Chinese medicine, means tigers continue to remain under serious threat.
The casino has vehemently defended the drugging, saying it’s standard procedure to drug animals to keep them from being overwhelmed by the casino or biting patrons. The head of the Laboratory Center for Animal Disease, Irina Korotkova, confirmed: ‘The animal was artificially sent to sleep with medication. In such cases its eyes are not closed.”