How, exactly, do you traumatize a raccoon? Well, it would seem that getting it to pose with a topless model for a photo and video shoot would do the trick, according to one zoo in Russia. Yep, you read that right.
A petting zoo in Russia, ironically called Animals Aren’t Toys, is seemingly suing a media company for using their favored raccoon Tomas in a sordid campaign that they claim they knew nothing about. The zoo says that they agreed to let the mammal take part under the illusion that he was to be used in an advert for bed linen, only to discover when the images went online that something slightly more, shall we say, risqué went down.
Since that fateful event, the keepers of Tomas say that he has been “traumatized” by what he was made to do. “Tomas came back withdrawn, always slept in the corner, and snapped at people,” the spokesman for the zoo, Viktor Kiryukhin, said to the Telegraph. Not only that, but the story gets weirder (if that is even possible), as it would also seem that the poor raccoon now has an unhealthy obsession with breasts.
One of the... questionable photos from the shoot with poor traumatized Tomas. Art-Msk
“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,” Kiryukhin continued. The Russian media company, Art-Msk, have hit back saying that there was nothing “erotic” about the shoot, and that they “never violated any animal rights.” It seems that the raccoon didn’t exactly help itself, either, as it ran off with the model's bra and hid under the bed chewing it.
If you’re still concerned about poor Tomas’ state of mind, then there may be some good (?) news after all. It has since emerged that the whole thing may simply be a PR stunt, cooked up to get attention from the world’s press, and it seems to have worked. Buzzfeed is reporting that on the website of the photography company there is an advert looking for zoos with raccoons and a “courageous PR-director who knows how to talk to journalists [sic]”.
“You want media to write about you? You like scandals? Then we need you!” the old post apparently reads, in Russian. The zoo involved, however, maintains that they knew nothing about the true nature of the shoot and that they will be pursuing legal action against Tomas’ use for the erotic content.