On this day two years ago Katya the brown bear was released from the prison where she spent 15 years locked up alongside 730 human inmates. But how did a bear end up locked in a human jail?
Katya was an abused circus animal whose former owners dumped her at a campground in Kazakhstan, a city in Asia. Katya lived in a cage at the campground and was used to entertain campers.
In 2004, Katya mauled two campers. One was a boy who was injured when he came too close to her cage and the other was an intoxicated man who was mauled after attempting to shake Katya’s paw.
Kazakh authorities removed Katya from the campground but could not find a zoo or sanctuary to take her so they put her in prison. She was sentenced to life imprisonment in Kostanay where she wallowed in a cell amongst the human inmates, surviving on food scraps from the prison kitchen.
Eventually, Katya’s unusual situation brought national attention and animal welfare organizations petitioned for her release.
After spending 15 years of her life in a jail cell, Katya was released on June 5, 2019 and relocated to a nearby zoo.