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Moscow Zoo takes legal action against ad agency that used their raccoon for an “erotic” video (NSFW)

An advertising company in Russia has been sued for using a raccoon in an “erotic” television commercial. No, no, we didn’t make this up.

This past August, advertising agency Art-Mask rented Thomas the Raccoon from the Teatr Zoo in Moscow. After seeing the footage of the shoot online, the terrorized directors of the zoo decided to sue Art-Mask.

The alleged footage depicted innocent little Thomas posing alongside a half naked model. The horror!

The zoo claims the particular experience affected Thomas’ personality for the worse. Zoo spokesperson Viktor Kiryukhin said to the BBC: “We noticed he was attracted to women’s breasts.”

The Teatr Zoo allows children to feed and interact with animals and is no stranger to renting their animals for commercials or film projects. They first asked the advertising company to take down all content related to Thomas, but decided to go for legal action in October after Art-Mask snubbed their pledge.

The video firm called the lawsuit “absurd”. Russian media quoted Art-Mask marketing manager Valery Bogatov saying it was the zoo who disrespected the contract in the first place, as Thomas was not trained as they requested. According to Bogatov, Thomas “was young and ran off all the time”.

For their part, Teatr Zoo says their female staff has been a bit unsettled by the raccoon’s behaviour since his return.

“It took two to three months to change his behaviour. Now he is happy again … but he was sad before,” they stated.

To add an extra layer of drama to this surreal legal ordeal, the ad agency threatened to counter-sue, and even further, to claim compensation for a bra Thomas had taken from the model.

Suspiciously, all content the zoo has posted on Instagram about the case has been tagged with some astute hashtags, including #interestingmoscow and #scandal. This has lead Russian media to suggest this is all a well planned public relations stunt, although the zoo denies it.

Also, back in April and June Art-Mask posted a listing on their website that read:

“Do you have a raccoon? Do you want the media to write about your zoo? Do you love a good scandal? We’re here to help!”

Bogatov confirmed to Russian news outlet 360TV that they were in fact planning a publicity scandal, but only after the video was released. Amidst the legal wrangling, the ad hasn’t been able to be published yet.

A Moscow Zoo takes legal action against ad agency that used their racoon for an "erotic" video  (NSFW) by Benjamin Pineros

“This story blocked the issue of the ad and is really getting in the way of what we originally had in mind,” Bogatov said. The cherry on the cake is that a nature conservation group has backed the zoo’s cause, with activists rallying on March 12th in Moscow’s Sokolniki district.

What do you think? Is this a well thought publicity stunt or the weirdest of legal battles? And more importantly, did Thomas really steal the bra?

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About the author

Filmmaker. 3D artist. Procrastination guru. I spend most of my time doing VFX work for my upcoming film Servicios Públicos, a sci-fi dystopia about robots, overpopulated cities and tyrant states. @iampineros

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