Moscow's petting zoo "Pets are not toys" is suing art studio Art-Msk over the use of a raccoon in one of their ads.
The zoo rented out Tomas the raccoon for a commercial video over the summer, but later found out that the ad involved the animal playing with a bare-breasted model.
In a clip from the video the raccoon can be seen playing with the model on a bed, playing with her bra. The shoot occurred on 3 August.
According to a zoo spokesperson, the experience '"traumatised" the raccoon and started harassing visitors. "Tomas came back withdrawn, always slept in the corner, and snapped at people," said Viktor Kiryukhin, quoted in the Telegraph. "Furthermore, we began to notice that he reached for women's breasts. 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."
According to the lawsuit text, the zoo claims the ad damaged the image of raccoons, as the animals would now be associated to "eroticism". "The defendant inflicted harm on the raccoon population," the lawsuit read, reported on Russian news website T-Journal. "Now everyone who watches this video or photo, will associate raccoons with eroticism".
A representative of the Art-Msk company, Valery Bogatov, told the Russian news website Life that he found the whole situation "absurd". He denied the ad was erotic in any way, as it was supposed to be broadcasted on national television to advertise bedsheets. The ad was never released as the client pulled out following the controversy.
Bogatov said they request a trained raccoon because the animals are usually difficult to manage, but the one they got was a young one and kept running away, hiding under the bed, and eventually ruined the bra. Bogatov joked that it should be the agency to file a suit "to [make them] pay the cost of the bra."
At the time, the Art-Msk studio posted photos from the day on its social media account with a linbk to its website, where the photo caption read: "The touching love story between the girl and the raccoon will be soon available to watch on national TV channels, as well as online".