February 11, 2022

Battle of the Zoo Mascots


Battle of the Zoo Mascots
The Jungle Book's King Louie real life edition Pexels, Pixabay

https://www.pexels.com/photo/red-forest-trees-animal-52530/

Who would’ve thought that choosing a zoo mascot would be so controversial? The Novosibirsk Zoo in Siberia earlier 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 supposed 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.

Soon enough, a polar bear cub named Shilka took the lead in voting. Then the white snow leopard Sayan won by a long shot, earning 25,000 votes in just one-day. These votes were found to be fraudulent, however, as they poured in over just four hours, despite the website having only 1,851 visitors.

When the dust settled on the mascot vote rigging, the zoo ended its competition, saying they will pick a mascot themselves, and that they are upset to see the animals being used in such a manner.

Many Batu supporters expressed outrage that the competition was ended by fiat, and that Batu was not crowned mascot. A perhaps fitting symbol of the current political opposition.

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