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Row Emerges As 'Fat' Lions And Tigers Perform At Circus In Russia

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Row Emerges As 'Fat' Lions And Tigers Perform At Circus In Russia

A circus in Russia has come under fire for its performing lions and tigers, who some people are claiming have become 'fat' after being fed on a diet of junk food. Footage has emerged of the captive big cats, showing them standing up and performing stunts in front of paying audiences:

Credit: East2West News

The video, shot at Vladivostok Circus, has ignited a heated row over the animals' welfare and stoked complaints about one of Russia's top trainers, citing alleged mistreatment and abuse of the big cats.

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'Lion whisperer' Vitaly Smolyanets, 44, has since lashed out at the accusations, claiming that his animals are treated very well, adding that they 'feel excellent'.

However, Russian animal lovers have condemned Smolyanets, demanding that Russia's prosecutor-general investigate the plight of the overweight felines.

Credit: East2West News

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According to the the Mirror, one furious man is reported to have said: "They are making clowns out of wild animals."

Another added: "When will these concentration camps for animals be banned?"

Sergey Aramilev, director of Amur Tiger Centre, which protects big cats native to eastern Siberia, said "Wild animals kept in captivity do put on weight.

He told the Mirror: "It's good that they are not skinny, which is more often the problem with zoos and circuses. Animals are (often) not fed properly and they starve. It's the same as with people who don't do sports.

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"But it's is too early to talk about danger [for their health]."

He added: "Of course, if they were fed with meat from wild prey, they would have looked different. This is like comparing healthy and junk food."

Credit: East2West News

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But Aramilev claimed that the cats' weight shouldn't put them at any risk from heart disease.

"So far I don't see obesity that could affect the cardiovascular system," he said.

The big cats are currently the star attraction at the recently-reopened circus, and are trained by respected circus handler Smolyanets.

The experienced trainer, who suffered a double amputation after being struck by a lorry while rushing to the aid of an injured man following a motorway crash, blamed the weight of the cats on their old age.

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"Our animals are old," he said.

"People put on weight as they get old, the same with animals."

Credit: East2West News

"They gave birth, and afterwards they put on weight [too]. We look after their health. They feel excellent. I don't see obesity."

He added: "No-one is giving them too much food - they eat once a day in the evening. If they have a performance in the afternoon, they are also given a snack."

Featured Image Credit: East2West News

Topics: Animal Cruelty, World News, Circus, Animals, obesity, Russia

Paddy Maddison
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