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A retired woman in Novosibirsk is sharing adorable animal videos from her local zoo, and — unforgivably — almost nobody is watching them

Meduza

In early January, two puma cubs were born at the Novosibirsk zoo. They are, as you would expect, ridiculously cute. (See for yourself.) While looking for videos of these adorable creatures, Meduza stumbled onto a YouTube channel run by a local retired woman named Nina Kurbatkina, who regularly shares footage of the animals at the city’s zoo. Her videos feature rudimentary editing, playful music, and touching narration. The channel’s cute animal videos are the stuff of Internet success, and yet most of her uploads have just a few dozen views. Meduza got in touch with Kurbatkina to learn more about her project. We’ve also collected some of her best videos, which you can watch below.

Nina Kurbatkina has uploaded more than a thousand videos recorded at the zoo. On January 8, 2018, alone, she shared two dozen new videos, including one showing a newborn puma cub running around in the snow and playing with its mother.

Tiny little puma cub. January 8, 2018.
Nina Kurbatkina

Kurbatkina doesn’t work at the zoo. “I’m retired and I really love our zoo,” she told Meduza. “I’m just an ordinary visitor and I love to shoot videos and take pictures.”

She says she visits the zoo almost every week. Of all the animals, she says her favorites are the polar bears Kai and Gerda and their cub Rotstik.

Before Meduza’s story, the most popular video on Kurbatkina’s YouTube channel was a video showing Gerda jumping in the snow. At the time of this writing, the video had 40,410 views. Another video showing Kai and Gerda playing together had 30,560 views.

Kai and Gerda in love. March 21, 2017. Novosibirsk zoo.
Nina Kurbatkina
Gerda plays in the snow. August 27, 2017. Novosibirsk zoo.
Nina Kurbatkina

Kurbatkina says she got interested in the local zoo thanks to the Vkontakte community “SOS!!! The Bear Shilka Needs Help!” The group’s members were petitioning to keep Shilka, a cub born to Kai and Gerda (and the first polar bear cub born in the Novosibirsk zoo in more than 42 years). The effort failed, however, and Shilka was transferred to a zoo in Osaka in 2015.

Judging by Kurbatkina’s videos, some people in the “SOS” group continue to meet up. In December 2017, they got together to celebrate the birthday of Rostik, Kai and Gerda’s second cub (born the year that Shilka was sent away).

The “SOS!!! The Bear Shilka Needs Help!” group wishes Rostik a happy birthday!
Nina Kurbatkina

In addition to the polar bears, Kurbatkina says she’s also extremely fond of the zoo’s wildcats, and lately she’s been spending more time with the monkeys, too.

A baby colobus monkey. December 28, 2017.
Nina Kurbatkina
A little cutie-pie De Brazza. December 19, 2017.
Nina Kurbatkina

Kurbatkina gives her videos short, honest titles, like “Mayhem Among the Capybaras and Lemurs,” where you can, as advertised, watch several capybaras run from zoo staff who are trying to take their temperatures. As the enormous rodents stumble around the room, Kurbatkina tries to calm them from the other side of the glass, repeating, “Oh, don’t be afraid, my dears.”

Mayhem among the capybaras and lemurs. January 8, 2018.
Nina Kurbatkina

In a video titled “The Nimble Sloth,” you will indeed find a relatively spry sloth climbing around on an indoor tree. If this sloth’s agility doesn’t impress, Kurbatkina uploaded another video titled “Sloth (Sped Up),” where you can — you guessed it — watch some of her sloth footage on fast-forward.

The nimble sloth. October 10, 2017. The Shilo Novosibirsk Zoo.
Nina Kurbatkina
Sloth (Sped Up). October 10, 2017.
Nina Kurbatkina

In a video titled “A Very Brave Squirrel at the Zoo,” Kurbatkina encountered a squirrel that allowed her to pet him briefly, before it tried to bite her fingers and then jumped onto her head.

A very brave squirrel at the zoo. December 13, 2017.
Nina Kurbatkina

And, finally, don’t miss her videos featuring a tiger, a fox, an iguana, and this other mix of animals.

An Amur tiger cub. November 11, 2017.
Nina Kurbatkina
Zoo animals (a tayra, iguana, squirrel monkey, and yellow-handed tamarin). October 27, 2017.
Nina Kurbatkina
Zoo animals (a green monkey and tayras). December 19, 2017.
Nina Kurbatkina

Story by Sultan Suleimanov, translation by Kevin Rothrock