Zoo Sues, Says Racy Ad Traumatized Its Raccoon

Lawsuit complains of 'erotica' over topless model
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2017 7:54 PM CDT

A Moscow zoo is suing an advertising company for misuse of one of its animals. The bizarre claim? That the company used a raccoon from the zoo in an "erotic" ad and traumatized it. Officials at the Animals Aren't Toys zoo say Tomas the raccoon returned from the shoot distressed and, tellingly, a little obsessed with women's breasts, reports the BBC. Then the zoo found behind-the-scenes footage of the shoot on the website of Art-Msk and thinks it figured out why: It shows Tomas with a topless model, and the zoo's theory is that the animal was associating breasts with the treats possibly used to coax it during filming. The zoo says it never would have given the OK for the raccoon to be used in a racy ad, and it worries about the raccoon population at large: "Now everyone who sees this video ... will directly associate raccoons with erotica,” declares the lawsuit.

"Absurd," responds the head of marketing for Art-Msk. The ad for blankets and pillows was made for national TV in Russia and thus doesn't come close to "erotica," says Valery Bogatov. In fact, he says the raccoon actually stole the model's bra on set and destroyed it during the August shoot, reports Euro News. "When the zoo told us they would sue us, we told them we’d file our own suit for the cost of the bra,” he tells the Telegraph. "I said it as a joke, because I thought they were joking, too." But the zoo was serious, as this week's filing made clear. It wants all photos and videos related to the shoot taken offline. As for Tomas, he seems to have recovered. "It took two to three months to change his behavior," says a spokesman. "Now he is happy again." (An essay argues that keeping apes in zoos is, contrary to popular opinion, a moral imperative.)

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