Katya the brown bear has been released from a prison in Kazakhstan after serving 15 years for two separate attacks on people causing actual bodily harm
A brown bear that was ordered to serve time in a human jail has been released after 15 years – to live in a zoo.
Katya, who twice injured people at the campsite where she was kept, was sent to prison in 2004 because nowhere else could be found for her.
At Kostanay strict-regime penal colony in Kazakhstan, which holds 730 dangerous criminals, including killers, she had a cell and a pool, and was cared for by inmates.
A spokesman for the jail, which even built a statue of Katya in her honour, said she would now learn to live in ‘almost natural conditions’.
Yerlan Zhutaev, spokesperson of the penal colony, said: ‘There was a pool where she could play, swim, and sleep nearby.
But Valentina Dmitrienko, head of Abkshino recreation centre, said in her new home she is mixing with others and male bear Yashka was ‘very happy to see her’.
A person perches on the ground and engages with Katya whose return to a mini-zoo has made another bear called Yashka ‘very happy’. He greeted Katya with a hug, kiss and ‘put his paw through [her] cage’ as a warm welcome
‘He put his paw right through this cage, hugged her, and kissed like a human.
‘We were all happy for such a warm welcome and everyone was touched by such a meeting.’
The mini-zoo, which costs locals 200 tenge of 40 pence, now has three bears, along with wolves, a camel, a pony, a donkey, and a yak.
She was the only female in a male penal colony (pictured) for inmates, holding 730 dangerous criminals, serving less than 25 years as officials could not find anywhere else. But unlike the others, the brown bear was not allowed conjugal visits
The jail has even built a statue of Katya in her honour, and a spokesperson said she would now learn to live in ‘almost natural conditions’
The bear was jailed after two separate attacks on people causing actual bodily harm at a camp site where she was previously caged.
She was the only female in a male penal colony for inmates serving less than 25 years as officials could not find anywhere else.
Unlike other prisoners, Katya was not allowed conjugal visits.
The jail’s deputy head of educational work Azamat Gapbasov said earlier this year before her release: ‘Sadly we cannot take a male bear to her. If only we could make artificial insemination…’
Bleak Kostanay penal outpost is 435 miles north west of Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-sultan.
And Katya’s new home is 235 miles away in the city of Petropavlovsk, Kazakhstan.