Even zoo animals are giving Russian invaders a hard time.
Russian soldiers viciously wrestled Ukrainian zoo animals into cages and vehicles during the retreat from the city of Kherson, video shows.
“While retreating from Kherson Russians stole animals from the local zoo,” Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian minister of internal affairs, said on Twitter.
A man seen grabbing a raccoon by its tail in the clip — which had received almost 400,000 views by Tuesday morning — was Oleg Zubkov, the owner of Taigan Lion Park, a private zoo in Russia-controlled Crimea, the Washington Post reported.
Zubkov, whose jacket featured the name of his zoo, is seen struggling with the animals in the brazen display of looting in a since-deleted YouTube video.
“We are in Kherson. Oleg Zubkov catches raccoons with BARE HANDS!!!” the headline said before the clip was removed, according to the paper.
He and his assistants reportedly made off with seven raccoons, two female wolves, peacocks, a llama and a donkey from the Kherson Zoo.
In another video, Zubkov was seen unloading the two wolves at his zoo, telling Russian TV crews that his action was a “temporary evacuation.”
“It will be much better for the wolves here: large territory, Crimean sun, and besides, after the quarantine, they will get a male,” Zubkov said, the Washington Post reported.
“It’s been their dream to live here,” he exclaimed, adding that the animals would be returned to their original zoo after Russia takes back Kherson.
“For us this is a humanitarian mission. These animals do not have any zoological value for us. We have our own wolves. We have 75 raccoons. We could make canned raccoon meat,” he said in a poor attempt at humor.
“Sorry, but seriously, we have a lot of raccoons, but we took these animals to keep them alive and so that residents of Kherson would be happy to see them alive again. The animals are in good hands,” Zubkov added.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry posted one of the videos and issued a stern warning about the zoo caper.
“The occupiers stole everything from Kherson: paintings from art galleries, antiquities from museums, historic manuscripts from libraries. But their most prized loot was a raccoon they stole from a zoo,” it captioned the clip.
“Steal a raccoon and Die,” the ministry added.
Zubkov said Russia’s designated leader in Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, made arrangements for him to travel to Kherson to remove the animals.
In 2021, the self-described Lion Man was convicted of negligence after one of his big cats bit off the finger of a 1-year-old boy in 2021, according to the newspaper.
He served two months of a 27-month prison sentence.
On Monday, Ukrainian soldiers shared emotional reunions and signed autographs following the Russian retreat in Kherson.
Ukrainians could be heard chanting “Kherson is Ukraine” — a repudiation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s shotgun annexation of the province — while taking to the street with blue and gold flags.