Ukraine Frees Bears From Forced Vodka Chugging

Drunken guests think its hilarious; activists differ

Bears are no longer going to be kept captive in Ukraine restaurants and forced to guzzle vodka, a top official said.

Ukraine's Environment Minister Mykola Zlochevsky said he will free all bears kept in restaurants, Interfax news agency reported. The practice dates back to the Russian Empire, when bears were caught, tamed and used for entertaiment.

But critics are horrified to see tipsy restaurant patrons paying to watch the beasts chug alcohol.

"On television, they keep showing bears suffering in restaurants and roadside hotels," he said. "How long can we tolerate animal torture in restaurants where drunken guests make bears drink vodka for laughs?"

In all, as many as 80 bears could be subject to such treatment. Officials plan to build a wildlife sanctuary for them.

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