Katya, a 36-year-old brown bear, is the only prisoner at the UK-161/2 penal colony in Kostanay, Kazakhstan, to be serving a life sentence. Ironically, even killers imprisoned here have sentences of no longer than 25 years.
So what could a bear do to end up in prison? Well, Ekaterina, or Katya as most of the 730 inmates at UK-161/2 call her, was put behind bars in 2004, after injuring two humans. Like a lot of her fellow inmates, the brown bear had a troubled life. Katya was abandoned by circus performers visiting Kostanay when she was still just a cub, and then locked in a cage near a popular camping site, as a tourist attraction. It was at the Belaya Yurta campsite that she committed the “crimes” that landed her in the strict regime prison, 15 years ago.