You may have heard of circus bears being trained to play hockey and ride bicycles but there are also bears that are trained to drink booze and be drunk for our enjoyment. “Vodka Bears” are usually found at certain restaurants and hotels and are given cheap booze and allowed to fall and play around in their cages while guest look on.
Though this is an old practice and giving bears alcohol has been outlawed in the Ukraine there are still roughly 100 or so vodka bears still out there. The Ukrainian government has begun to crack down on this practice in order to avoid a possible PR disaster. Though the idea of a bear falling around drunk may be amusing, forcing alcohol on an animal is cruel and would eventually draw the attention of journalist, and animal rights activist.
Since the Ukraine is co-hosting the Euro 2012 football tournament, a plan was developed to send these vodka bears to rehab in order to avoid any backlash that may develop from the insurgence of press and journalist.
“If a foreigner comes here and sees a bear in a bar being treated terribly, it’s very bad for the country’s image,” Yuri Tyukh, vice-director at Synevir, told Bloomberg Businessweek recently. “Then, before long, we’ll have to worry about Greenpeace, the WWF—all these people and what they will say about us.”
The first four rescued bears have been moved to Synevir national nature park, in the country’s Carpathian mountains, where they are being prepared for release to the wild.