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Kristine Aghalaryan

Animal Cruelty: Endangered Brown Bear Cub a Yerevan Neighborhood Attraction

Kids in a Yerevan neighborhood have no qualms petting a seven-month old bear cub being kept in a tiny barred enclosure.

Foam drips from the cub’s mouth. It’s not due to the sweltering summer heat.

Children say that the cub’s teeth have been removed by its “keeper” – a safety measure, no doubt.

The cub is a brown bear, (Ursus arctos), registered in Armenia’s Red Book of Endangered Species.

Readers might ask how the bear cub appeared in this section of Gogol Street in the Zeytoun-Kanaker district of Yerevan.

According to homeowner Gayaneh, the cub belongs to a friend of her husband. He asked that they keep the cub until he finishes building a cage.

While this reporter was talking to Gayaneh, the cub’s owner showed up.

He is Shant Bagratyan, son of a former Regional Governor of Vayots Dzor province. Bagratyan claims to have all the necessary permits for the bear.

Bagratyan says the cub’s canine was broken accidentally. He didn’t say how.

When I ask Bagratyan if he’s aware that the bear is registered in Armenia’s Red Book of Endangered Species, the young man replies: “Maybe. But we’re not doing anything bad. Red Book? That’s even better. We are keeping one as well.” He’s obviously proud of the fact.

Bagratyan doesn’t enjoy the attention of the press. “There’s so much to photograph in this country. People can’t work and die from hunger,” he says.

He says it costs a mere 500 AMD ($1) per day to feed the cub; mostly from household scraps.

“The cub eats all the rotten stuff,” says Gayaneh, asking us to erase what we have filmed. “We can’t send you off in good fashion if you don’t,” she adds.

“Good fashion”, I reply would be to show us the permits for keeping a wild animal who is evidently sick.

Bagratyan promised to show us the permits before 2 p.m. today. He never did.