March 01, 2022

Political Animals

Political Animals
Vote Batu in 2022. Novosibirsk Zoo.

Who would’ve thought that choosing a zoo mascot would be so controversial? The Novosibirsk Zoo in Siberia announced that, for 2022, its new mascot would be chosen by a public vote. What began as a fun opportunity for the public to get involved quickly became embroiled in scandal, after Sergei Boyko chose to show his support for the orangutan Batu.

Sergei Boyko, an exiled city deputy, broadcast his support for the orangutan on YouTube, urging other influencers and bloggers, such as Ilya Varlamov, to get behind the movement. Despite the assumption that the orangutan would not be a good candidate, given its supposedly “unappealing” appearance compared to other mammals, votes surged for Batu.

It is not clear why Boyko and others chose Batu, but he soon came to represent Russia’s opposition. So of course the mayor’s office stepped in to quash the orangutan’s support by mysterious means.

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