Animal activists locally and abroad have their sights centered on Tigre de Cristal Casino near Vladivostok after images surfaced of a five month old female Siberian tiger cub with glazed-over eyes. The cub was reportedly drugged to make her appearance at the casino’s grand opening a safe occurrence for all. Siberian Times and other outlets show images of the rare cub, dubbed “Crystal” basically sleeping with her eyes open and some outlets report she was dragged around the stage (unconfirmed) and abused by the administration of sedatives. Opponents of the casino have found a rallying cry with some proclaiming that the casino “started with a crime”.
Guests of the grand opening event told local media that the cub was carried onto the stage and spent an hour there, looking drugged and glassy-eyed.
Siberian tigers are endangered with only about 500 remaining in the wild. People of the Primorye region relate intimately to the Siberian tiger as a symbol of identity.
Ekaterina Zotova, director of the private zoo near Ussuriysk, where Crystal will now live after her journey from a zoo in Ufa, some 7800 km, nearly 5,000 miles away, says the animal was not harmed. “Before the show we gave her a sedative. Any vet gives such medication to cat or dog during the transportation. They are absolutely harmless and necessary to the animal, for example, to prevent sickness or aggression from the loud music. Predators have different reactions on such things. What’s more, we know that Crystal arrived in Primorye only three days ago. After sedation, the tigress dropped her lower eyelids. It lasted for only 10-15 minutes.”
The director staunchly denied any allegations of cruelty and said the tigress was back in her enclosure, “meowing, and playing” and had a good appetite. The Siberian Times reports that police are investigating the drug(s) used. No statement from the casino has yet come to press.