DISTRESSING CONTENT WARNING: A skateboarding bear has turned on its trainers at a Russian circus, pinning a man to the ground in front of stunned onlookers.
Far from what the World Cup host was hoping to make headlines for, the visibly distressed brown bear had just been made to ride down a small ramp when it became aggressive mid-way through the performance in the Russian region of Volgograd on Saturday.
Footage shows the trainer attempting to break free of the bear’s clutches as the two women whip the animal with a stick.
The trainer eventually escapes and exits the stage amidst screams from the crowd.
Uneasy spectators, who were just metres away with no barrier, said the bear was under duress and clearly wanted to leave the arena.
“Reluctantly slipping off the ramp, the animal wanted to leave, but he was pulled back,” local woman Anastasia Mishcherina told News Corp.
“Perhaps he realised that another flogging was waiting for him and he decided to attack first.”
The incident comes just days after another bear was spotted appearing to play a vuvuzela in the back of a car in Moscow.
The bear has often been used as a symbol for Russia dating back to the USSR days and is the symbol of the country’s ruling party, United Russia, but that did little to ease the concerns of PETA (the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
“The cruel and degrading sight of a bear being forced to play a musical instrument shouldn’t be what the world associates with Moscow and the World Cup,” PETA foundation director of captive animal law enforcement Brittany Peet said in a statement.
“PETA is calling for this bear to be confiscated and retired to a reputable sanctuary where he or she would be able to live in peace, not as a prop.”