Russian bear cubs freed after two-year confinement: NGO

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Two bear cubs who had been locked up in appalling conditions in a small garage in Russia's former imperial capital were freed on Thursday, an animal defence official said.

"The two cubs who spent almost two years in this garage with only three small holes for air were freed today and taken to a rehab centre," Dinara Ageyeva of the Vita aid group told AFP.

The two, named Rita and Roma, were owned by a photographer who sought to attract tourists but rarely let them out of their prison-like home which was not heated in winter and was stuffy in summer.

Neighbours alerted animal rights activists on Wednesday after they heard growls coming from the garage and reported a nauseous stench.

Ageyeva said it would be "very difficult" to sue the cubs' owner and have him condemned for mistreating animals.

"Even if he was prosecuted for ill-treatment of the cubs, he would probably only have to pay a small fine," she said.

© 2011 AFP

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