A bear in a Russian circus turned on its trainer during a show this week and was subdued with a stun gun, adding to the argument that wild animals shouldn’t be used for entertainment.
The 660-pound brown bear and handler Ruslan Solodyuk of the traveling Anshlag circus were doing a routine in Olonets involving a wheelbarrow when the muzzled bear pounced on him, NBC News reported Friday. With no barrier between the audience and the unfolding attack, spectators shrieked and could be seen fleeing in the video, above.
The bear pinned the trainer for a few seconds before another handler kicked the animal repeatedly and zapped it with a stun gun, The New York Times reported.
Authorities have begun a criminal investigation into whether circus services were unsafe, CBS News reported Friday. The bear ventured into the spectator area after the attack, before it was subdued with the stun gun, according to the network’s report.
Lyudmila Misnik, the manager of the circus, told Russian media that spectators provoked the bear by taking prohibited flash pictures.
Misnik said the animal and the trainer were “doing fine,” according to the Times.
Solodyuk told a Russian outlet that the bear, named Yashka, was not feeling well before the attack, but had not been violent before.
Many Russian circuses continue to ignore objections raised by animal activists over their use of bears for entertainment, the Times wrote.
In a June 2018 incident, a bear in a traveling circus jumped off its skateboard and attacked a staffer during a performance. Handlers beat the bear with sticks.