SHOCKING footage has emerged of a muzzled bear being forced to perform before a Russian league match on the eve of the country hosting the World Cup.
Circus bear ‘Tim’ can be seen presenting the match ball to the referee before clapping to fans while standing on his hind legs before the third-tier game between Mashuk-KMV and Angusht.
Some reports suggested ‘Tim’ would be used at the World Cup opening ceremony but have since been denied by FIFA.
The video has drawn wide condemnation from animal rights groups, with Peta’s director of animal welfare, Elisa Allen, calling the incident inhumane.
“In addition to being inhumane and utterly out of touch, using a bear as a captive servant to deliver a football is downright dangerous,” Allen said.
“The bear is the symbol of Russia, so we hope the country’s people will show some compassion and national pride and stop abusing them. Common decency should compel the league to pull this stunt.”
UK country director of Four Paws, Brian da Cal, says people need to understand the physical and psychological impact scenes like this have on animals.
“While some supposedly find this depressing scene ‘entertaining’ there is nothing at all light-hearted about this kind of abuse,” da Cal said.
“Bears are wild animals and as such have very specific and complex needs.
“Being chained up, muzzled and forced to perform unnatural acts in front of large, rowdy crowds of people causes tremendous stress and can have an untold impact on these animals, both psychological and physical.”