Sports

Bear Forced to Do 'Sickening' Tricks at Soccer Match in Russia

Animal rights groups have described footage of a bear performing tricks at a soccer match in Russia as “sickening” and “inhumane.”

A video from a third-tier game between Mashuk-KMV and Angusht in Pyatigorsk was shared on YouTube showing circus bear ‘Tim’ handing the ball to the referee.

The away team claimed that the bear, which was also shown standing on its back legs and clapping, would be used at the opening ceremony of the World Cup this summer.

Russia is the host nation for this year’s tournament, and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) group have urged the country to stop abusing bears.

“In addition to being inhumane and utterly out of touch, using a bear as a captive servant to deliver a football is downright dangerous unless, as is often the case, the animal's teeth and claws have been cruelly removed,” PETA director Elisa Allen said in a statement to Newsweek .

“Bears are not willing performers, so Russian circuses and other lousy acts take them from their mothers as babies and then ‘train’ them using beatings, electric shocks, cigarette burns, and food deprivation to make them perform belittling, stupid tricks like this, which make no sense to them.”

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 football league to pull this stunt, which flies in the face of the spirit of fair play.”

That sentiment was shared by Animal Defenders International (ADI) president and co-founder Jan Creamer.

"The sight of this poor bear, forced to perform tricks for the crowd, should shame us all,” she said in a statement. “An incredible, intelligent and inquisitive wild animal reduced to a figure of fun. All that we learn from using animals in entertainment are the reasons why it must stop. Avoid these sickening shows and support the efforts of ADI and others to stop circus suffering.”