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Katya, Russia’s Olympic Bear, Lives in a Rusty Cage

Katya, Russia’s Olympic Bear, Lives in a Rusty Cage


Katya is a 36-year-old bear who was a longtime star of the Big St. Petersburg State Circus on Fontanka where she entertained thousands riding a motorcycle around a ring. In 1980, she performed in the Olympics in Russia, at the opening ceremony for a soccer match; she was also in two movies in the 1980s. But as MSNBC reports, since she retired in 2009, she’s been kept in a rusty brown cage inside a bus, along with dozens of other retired circus animals. MSNBC describes the horrific conditions in which Katya and many other retired circus animals live:

“They can’t move normally and start going crazy,” Zoya Afanasyeva of the Vita animal rights group said as she stood by Katya’s sweltering bus on a hot summer day.

“Apparently they are being taken care of, but not more often than once a day, and this care is perfunctory because the smell here in the parking lot is unbearable,” Afanasyeva said.

Klava the bear shares a small cage with Pasha the boar.

Birds with atrophied muscles live next to cats that don’t meow and stare straight ahead with pus-covered eyes.

While some of the animals are taken to downtown St. Petersburg to be photographed with children and tourists, others are never washed or examined by veterinarians. Circus director Viktor Savrasov says the animals are “cared for” and that Katya’s trainer, Natalya Arkhipova, could have instead put her to sleep. Arkhipova reportedly still feeds Katya.

The VITA animal rights group has an English version of its webpage; regarding “atrocious entertainments,” Vita says:

Several attempts have been made to organize bullfights in Russia. VITA has taken an active part in the successful international campaign against these plans. We also carry action for better life conditions for the animals in the zoos and circuses, and their further abolition. From 2009 VITA is a member of the BornFree – Born Free Foundation.

There are videos on YouTube of bears performing the sorts of tricks that Katya once did in the circus in Russia but I find them painful to watch. If anyone needs evidence that we can do without animal acts in circuses, looking at Katya in her cage should be more than enough.


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9:07AM PST on Mar 3, 2013

Free Katya from her miserable life. She doen't belong in a cage. She's not guilty of any crime, but a victim of human greed.

4:37AM PST on Feb 28, 2013

This poor gracious old sweetheart (Katya); after all she has done for her 'owners', one would expect that some compensation would be given her in her old age as recompense for all the money she has undoubtedly earned for them. Let her live out her life in dignity and comfort (as all senior citizens deserve)!!

8:13PM PST on Feb 26, 2013

What is the update on Katya please?

11:56PM PDT on May 17, 2012


1:37PM PST on Jan 26, 2012

What happened to Katya after the flurry of publicity about her plight and the animals caged with her in that Russian bus in Moscow? Does anyone have an update please and can the campaign continue if she has not be freed? thanks.

9:04AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

This is disgusting and pathetic.

8:57AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

There must be some way we can help these poor animals.This is so cruel.

3:39AM PST on Nov 18, 2011

This petition is slowly creeping up to 2,500 but I feel it needs more coverage to make any difference.

6:57AM PDT on Nov 3, 2011


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11:03AM PDT on Oct 29, 2011

Sanctuary NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

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