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14 Jun, 2007 07:20

‘Catnapping’ case investigated in Siberia

A kitten of a Bengal cat, who hit the headlines after being stolen from a Siberian zoo, has been returned. Zoo keepers are now trying to make him feel at home again, while police are looking to bring those, who snatched him from his mother, to justice.

The kitten went missing from his cage at a zoo in Siberia’s largest city, Novosibirsk, last week. A search for the kitten was launched – first by local television channels, and word soon spread across Russia.

Thursday morning, he was found in a shoe box, which was left outside the zoo’s doors.

“The cat was probably returned after the appeals on TV. People were likely afraid of bearing responsibility since the punishment for this is a five-year term,” says Pavel Kelin, local police officer.

The zoo staff are happy to have the kitten back, but they face a new problem – his mother no longer recognises him. The little lost kitty, though back home, has become an orphan.

“The kitten cannot be given to its mom as she has lost her milk and cannot feed him anymore,” explains Roza Kaipberdyeva, the zoo deputy director.

The kitten is now living in a separate cage, where keepers are learning to tame and feed the baby with special nursing techniques.

Once found, those responsible for the theft will be charged with inhuman treatment of animals, and could be sentenced to five years in jail. The only motive for the crime that has come up so far is that the cat was stolen because someone liked it.

Detectives are narrowing their list of suspects, and hope to bring the catnappers to justice. As investigators continue their work, zookeepers continue theirs – trying to build this little Bengal cat a new home in the one from which he was so cruelly snatched.