Attempt to save fighting cattle comes to grief

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2003:

MOSCOW-2003 opened miserably for sisters Lena and Tanja
Marou-eva, who had to tell fellow members of People for
Animals/Russia and their supporters abroad that their August 2001
success in banning bullfights from Moscow had nonetheless ended with
the deaths of all 30 of the imported fighting bulls and cows they
struggled for two years to save.
In the end, they managed to bring just one of the cattle
into sanctuary care. Received in November, while ANMAL PEOPLE was
in Moscow, she was named Dinara, after the late ANIMAL PEOPLE
office cat Dennis the Menace, whose memorial appeared in the
November 2002 edition. A specially built paddock for Dinara was
nearly done when she succumbed to suspected poisoning.

“Though we cannot be 100% sure of the diagnosis, the
symptoms of excessive salivation and convulsions were very typical of
poisoning,” Tanja Maroueva said. “There is no way to find out
who might have done it, but some bullfight supporters are rather
upset with us. Also, the neighbors of the small farm where we had
placed Dinara do not like having a sanctuary there, and are upset
with the owner. They are farmers, and cannot understand keeping
animals except to produce meat and dairy products.”
Added Lena Maroueva, “Many people lost much money because
bullfights that had already been scheduled and advertised were
cancelled, and that made them very angry. After the cancellation,
the Russian toreador Lidia Artamonova,” who was to have been the
star of the Moscow bullfights, “used the remaining bulls and cows
to blame us. She said that the animals were suffering in dirty barns
because of the cancellation. We contacted many farmers and no one
wanted them, saying they were aggressive and were not of a breed
suitable for producing milk and meat, although they were to have
been slaughtered for meat after fighting.”
Fourteen of the cattle died before People for Animals was
even offered a chance to help them.
“There were many articles and TV shows about it,” Lena
Maroueva continued, “mostly produced by people who did not realize
that the fight was to have been of the Portuguese type [in which the
bulls are not killed] and were sure that animals had only the
alternatives of death in the ring and death from neglect. You cannot
imagine how many foundations and charities we applied to in search of
a home for the cattle, especially after we were promised on TV that
they would be given to us if we found a suitable place for them.
“Fortunately we found Fiona Oakes of the Towerhills Stables
Animal Sanctuary in Britain,” Lena Maroueva explained, “who agreed
to pay for the upkeep of the surviving cattle until we could find
stable sponsorship. My husband and I searched all autumn in rural
villages where the people are very poor and prices are lower. We
finally located people who agreed to keep the animals almost for
free. It was a wonderful chance to start a sanctuary. But we were
not given the animals! Instead the promoter demanded $5,000. When we
did not pay this amount, he killed 12 cattle and then said he wanted
$2,000 for the remaining four. Then he killed two others, and
another suffered a broken neck from rough handling when she was
loaded for transport to our sanctuary, so we ended up paying him
$1,500 for one animal! But even having to surrender that last cow to
us infuriated the bullfighters, so it is likely that Dinara was
“Just before taking Dinara,” Lena Maroueva recalled, “we
found a person who showed interest and enthusiasm about helping us.
To be more precise, he found us. He offered to keep the cows
completely free of charge, and to arrange the transportation. This
seemed too good to be true. When we investigated, we found out that
he was a good friend of Lidia Artamonova, and is a bullfighting fan!
We still don’t know what exactly his intentions were, but he showed
no interest in the animals until we had a real chance to help them.”
Concluded Tanja Maroueva, “People for Animals is still
taking care of 40 cats and a dog at our small animal sanctuary near
Moscow, but the loss of any animal is still a blow.”

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