Just a raccoon, not the traumatized raccoon. Photo: AP

Employees at a petting zoo in Moscow are livid over the treatment it says its raccoon received during a video shoot. The zoo’s representatives claim that Tomas the raccoon was rented to a production company for a commercial shoot that turned out to be an “erotic video” and now Tomas is “traumatized.”

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Animals Aren’t Toys characterizes itself as a “contact zoo” and its motto is “little animals are not toys.” Reportedly, the zoo made a deal with Russian video firm called Art-Msk back in August for Tomas to be featured in a “regular advertisement.” Spokesman Viktor Kiryukhin tells the BBC that when the raccoon returned from his filmmaking adventure he was traumatized and “was attracted to women’s breasts.”

For a time, the zoo’s staff was confused but then they saw some backstage photos of the shoot on the firm’s website. And it all came together. The raccoon had been exposed to... some sort of naked woman advertising something for some reason. And now it was all screwed up in the head.

Exhibit A. Screenshot: Art-Msk

Animals Aren’t Toys is suing Art-Msk for an undisclosed amount of money. “Tomas came back withdrawn, always slept in the corner, and snapped at people,” Kiryukhin tells the Telegraph.

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“We think to perform several takes the film crew lured him onto the actress’ chest with treats. Now he thinks he can always expect a treat near women’s breasts.” 

For its part, the video firm maintains that it was not an erotic video shoot. It was just a regular ad that featured a naked woman and a raccoon. “I’d like to make absolutely clear we never violated any animal rights,” Valery Bogatov, the head of Art-Msk’s video marketing department, told the Telegraph.

He says that the lawsuit is absurd and he thought it was a joke. What’s more, the video producers were not pleased with Tomas performance:

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“The raccoon himself grabbed the actress’s bra and ran under the bed. Originally we asked for a trained animal, because raccoons are generally unmanageable. But we were given this - he was young and constantly ran away. After several takes he stole the underwear and chewed it.”

According to the BBC, some commentators in the Russian media have speculated that this is all a publicity stunt on the part of the zoo. If so, this is a weird way to seek attention. It’s a weird story all around, honestly.

The zoo’s director insists Tomas has recovered and is no longer a breast-hungry scamp.

[BBC, Telegraph]