Keepers at a petting zoo have been accused of keeping a lion cub drugged so that visitors will pay to pose for selfies with it.
Petting zoo visitors, in a shopping centre in the city of Tver in western Russia’s Tver Oblast region, can pay 300 RUB (4 GBP) to pose for photos with the young lion.
But animal lovers say the cub appears sluggish when it should be playful and does not react to anything that happens around it.
Animal activist Emilia Borblik has started an online petition, which has been signed by more than 10,000 people, calling on the authorities to investigate.
She believes that keepers are giving the lion too many tranquillisers to keep it docile so that visitors can pet it and pose for selfies.
Ms Borblik said: "It seems that it is being drugged with something. Most likely they add strong tranquilisers into its food.
"The greedy owners are willing to make any sacrifice for the sake of money. Stop them! Save the lion!"
She has complained to local police officers and health watchdogs about the condition of the lion cub.
The zoo was unavailable for comment however local media reports that law enforcement officers failed to find any evidence of illegal activity.
However, Ms Borblik claims that, after she launched her petition, the lion cub was moved to another zoo in the city of Tula in western Russia’s Tula Oblast region.