Baby Tiger Drugged And Dragged Around Casino — Just For Fun

When Russia's latest attraction, the ritzy Tigre de Cristal casino, opened its doors, it needed something big to make an impact. So, it decided haul around a 5-month-old endangered tiger cub who was drugged so heavily she couldn't open her eyes.

Patrons and members of the public were shocked to see the young Amur tiger being carted around the casino floor in Vladivostok, Russia. Barely conscious, her inner eyelids drooped shut, leaving her with a blank red stare.

"In terms of moral and ethical aspects, it is not good," Sergei Aramilev, of the Amur Tiger center, told the Siberian Times.

While tourist attractions, such as cub petting facilities, will often drug animals to make them more pliable, it's rare that the facilities admit to it. Yet casino reps have freely confessed to drugging the young cub, according to the Siberian Times, saying that because she was too small for an injection, they fed her a bottle laced with sedatives.

The casino has gone on to vehemently defend the drugging, saying it's standard procedure to drug animals to keep them from being overwhelmed by the casino or biting patrons.

The casino purchased the young cub, named Crystal after the casino, for around $6,800 from a zoo, according to Russian media. It's unclear why she's not with her mother, but she now lives at a nearby private zoo and will be available for the casino to parade out on demand for future "themed" parties.

The casino is the beginning of a massive entertainment push in the area, designed to appeal to gamers in nearby Asian countries. Yet the stunt appears to have been a serious miscalculation, as it was met with derision by Russian locals - who found it all the more appalling considering the particular relationship Russians have with the endangered Amur tiger.

Also known as the Siberian tiger, the cats are considered something of a national treasure. Amur tigers were once native to Russia and and China but their population dropped to just 20 to 30 animals in the 1930s. They've since made a comeback thanks to aggressive protection measures, but are still highly endangered. There are only around 450 individuals left in the wild, and they are still threatened due to high demand in China for tiger bones and other parts used in traditional medicine.

And since every individual counts for the precarious wild population, many Russians were outraged to see the young cub being carted around a casino's party in a clearly incapacitated state. As one resident, Irina Butkovskaya, said, it was frustrating that the casino "began with a crime - animal abuse."

Unfortunately, abuse like this isn't limited to Russia. To find out why cub petting attractions - which are surprisingly common in the U.S. - are so dangerous to tigers and other big cats, click here.

h/t Siberian Times