Bears are often kept for "entertainment" in Russia, a practise that often leads to cruelty and tragedy
Many of you who know me personally, know of my love of animals. I have zero tolerance when it comes to animal cruelty, which is one of the many reasons why I am a vegetarian.
I want to bring the subject of dancing bears to your attention because you may encounter them in your travels to Russia.
Several years ago while I was visiting St. Petersburg, I was walking near the equestrian statue of Peter the Great when I came across a young man who had what I thought was a dog on a leash. As it turned out, it was a young brown bear cub. The animal was muzzled and being led on a leash attached to a metal ring that had been piereced through its nose. I have encountered this sad sight on numerous occasions in both St. Petersburg and Moscow since.
Tourists and newleyweds seem to be the main targets of those who exploit these animals. The bear's "owner" will ask for money in return for having your photo taken with the bear. Most people innocently think it is cute, unaware of the cruelty behind this horrible trade.
I asked the young man where he obtained the bear cub and he explained that his uncle had shot and killed the mother, taking the cubs and selling them to any one interested. When I asked him what he fed the cub, he smiled and said "garbage, what else?" I then asked him how long he would keep the bear and what he would do with it when it was an adult. He merely shrugged his shoulders. I felt a great sense of pity for this poor animal.
I contacted a local animal welfare group in St. Petersburg about this disturbing incident. She filled me in with some gruesome details about this sort of animal cruelty. She expressed her frustration that their calls to police and local government officials to crack down on the use of bears for entertainment on the streets of Russian cities falls on deaf ears.
She confirmed that adult female bears are often shot, their cubs taken from their mothers when they are only a few weeks old. The adult bears are the victims of poaching, often to supply the needs of Chinese traditional medicine in the Far East.
The cubs are forced to live an unnatural life in a cage, "cared" for by people who use means of cruel force in order to break the animals spirit. The standard method of "training" involves forcing a thick iron ring through the nose, which causes considerable pain when yanked. The bears "dance" in an attempt to avoid the pain. Alternatively, music is played whilst the bear stands on hot plates, it will dance to stop having its feet being burnt. It will then dance whenever it hears music.
Once the "training" is complete, the cubs are taken to major tourist sights, forced to pose for photographs or "dance" on their hind legs for up to 12 hours a day to entertain tourists and newlyweds, becoming a tragic spectacle of a cruel tradition that has been practised in Russia and other countries for centuries.
It is important to note that hundreds of bear cubs are taken from the wild every year, and sold in markets. The majority do not survive the ordeal. Many of them die before they begin their brutal "training." Dehydration, starvation and trauma are among the reasons. Should the cub be "lucky" enough to live past the "training", a punishing regime of starvation and beating will begin to condition it to perform. The piercing of the bears' sensitive muzzle with a metal ring, or just a rope for control is the next ordeal. It is held down without anaesthetic while a crude iron needle is inserted through its nose. Before it is a year old, the bear's incisors and canine teeth will be wrenched out and sold as lucky charms.
Animal welfare groups across Russia have been monitoring the exploitation of bear cubs for several years now. They are joined by growing numbers of Russians who are concerned for these animals and their short lives of pain, misery, and premature death. They are demanding that the authorities put an end to it.
I would like to add my voice to the growing protest against this barbaric trade, and urge tourists visiting Russia not to support this senseless and disgraceful act of animal cruelty.
Half of Museum Fund of Russia will be Digitized by 2020 Topic: Museums
After a large-scale expertise the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation has started digitalization of the museum fund of the Russian Federation for creation of an electronic catalog.
The museum fund totals more than 73 million exhibits and more than a half – around 40 million - is planned to be included in an electronic by 2020.
The work is already under way - last year 1,5 million exhibits were digitized, and 5 million more are expected to be transferred into electronic form in 2011. There has never been such a master catalog that would unite all the museums.
In future it will be possible to arrange virtual excursions on the basis of this catalog.
Originally published in 1906, this new expanded edition features two additional chapters about the grand duchesses, written by Miss Eagar in 1909, five years after she left Russia. Also, an extensive 46-page introduction, written by Charlotte Zeepvat will be included that includes previously unpublished material on Miss Eagar's personal life before and after Russia, her thoughts on the grand duchesses, letters by or about her from the State Archives of the Russian Federation, the reason why she left Russia in 1904, as well as some of her own writing that does not appear in her book.
Kremlin to Host Exhibition of Works by Faberge Topic: Faberge
This year the Moscow Kremlin will showcase works of the famous Russian jeweller, Carl Faberge.
The exhibition will feature the unique masterpieces of Carl Faberge and his contemporaries, including works from Cartier. The exhibit will include Imperial Easter eggs, as well as items made of precious and semi-precious stones, desk sets, cups and vases.
The exhibition will run from April 8 to July 24 in the Exhibition Hall of the Assumption Belfry.
A private museum in Baden-Baden in Germany is opening a display in the Volga city of Kostroma on March 15th to showcase a collection of over 200 jewelry items from the workshop of the 19th-century Russian jeweller Carl Faberge.
All pieces are from a collection of over 3 thousand amassed by a millionaire Russian industrialist named Alexander Ivanov.
September 21st marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Grand Palace at Livadia, situated three kilometers from Yalta in the Crimea.
To mark the occasion, the Crimea National Committee for the Protection of Cultural Heritage has proposed the creation of the Livadia Historical-Architectural Reserve. The newly created reserve would include the Grand Palace and adjacent buildings, including the palace of Count Fredericks, the Holy Cross Church, as well as the surrounding park which includes pavilions and fountains dating back to the tsarist period. The palace and park complex will occupy an area of approximately 37 hectares.
Vice-Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ekaterina Yurchenko recently met with the Ministry of Culture of Crimea to develop a plan of activities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Livadia Palace. She also noted that a request has been made for funds for the complete restoration of the palace which would come from both government and private sources.
Livadia is recognized as a monument of great architectural and historical importance of the 19th-20th centuries. The palace was a favourite residence of Tsar Nicholas II and his family up until the outbreak of World War One. In 1925 the former Imperial palace was turned into a sanatorium for peasants, while in 1945 it served as the location of the Yalta Conference. In 1993 the palace received the official status as a museum. The proposed new status elevating Livadia to that of an historical and architectural reserve will allow for both government protection and funding.