"Should our hunger strike yield no results I will release the animals and burn myself. I’ve got nothing to lose," Sapsan’s manager said.
VLADIVOSTOK. April 27. VOSTOK-MEDIA – For two years now, Vladimir Vaganov, the Managing director of Ussuriisk-based Sapsan Zoo, has been trying to stand up for the rights of the only managerie in Russia, where not only young animals but also retired circus animals are kept. At present, there are 16 bears, a leopard, a lynx, pheasants, raccoons, reindeers and many other animals in Sapsan.
“It all started when I first raised the issue of circus’s territory expansion at the Ussuriisk Administration. Since then the authrities have been oppressing us: One day they tried to bankrupt us then another day they put padlocks on animals’ cages. It’s simply outrageous!” said Vladimir Vaganov.
Meanwhile, the land lease agreement with the right of prolongation and purchase option expires in July. Vaganov said the authorities are likely to dispossess him of the land, Komsomolskaya Pravda daily wrote.
In despair, the six employees of Sapsan Zoo decided to go no a hunger strike on May 1. They sent their announcement to the Ussuriisk authorities but no response has yet been received, Vladimir said.
“I’m the captain and I’ll go down with my ship. Should our hunger strike yield no results I will release the animals and burn myself. I’ve got nothing to lose,” he said.
Ussuriisk authorities said they would settle the issue in a day or two with lawyers.
“Sapsan is located in a marshy area, which is regulary flooded because of the dam nearby,” an official said. “We want to offer to Vaganov several resettlement options. One of them is a park belt near Lotosovoye Lake, which is 10 kilometers from the city. The other option is the area near the agricultural academy within the city.”
The authorities did not give any specific information as to who will cover the resettlement expenses. “I’m confident that the issue will be settled but perhaps we’ll need some sponsor support,” a spokesman for Ussuriisk Administration siad.