A circus trainer for the Harlequin Traveling Circus in Russia was mauled by a bear this week. The audience was treated to a terrifying spectacle as the bear tried to go after its trainer not once, but twice, before being pulled away by another member of the circus.
Since the incident, the circus has denied that the accident took place, despite it being caught on video and posted to Twitter. The video was posted by The Siberian Times and has Twitter users saying the treatment of these animals is not “humane.”
The video shows the bear following its trainer around the ring before lunging for her leg. A second attack happens near the end of the 20-second video where the bear once again tries to bite the trainer’s skin. The trainer didn’t receive medical attention after the show, and it is reported that a third attack happened, but was not recorded.
The Harlequin Traveling Circus prides itself on its humane treatment of its animals and promises its audiences “an unforgettable large-scale performance with a wide variety of animals.” The circus is famous for dressing its bears in outfits, such as tutus and other human garbs. They claim that the attack on the trainer happened because the bears are in mating season.
Despite these claims, the circus has been under fire from the Russian Investigative Committee for other animal attacks and safety violations. As the video shows, there are no safety barriers between the audience and the animals. With events like the recent mauling, some fans are concerned.
Russian animal rights activist, Irina Novozhilova, is very vocal when it comes to her belief that the use of animals should be banned from circuses in Russia. She believes that any circus training of animals can’t be humane because the practices are based on cruelty.
This is not the first time that there has been an animal attack in a Russian circus. Back in May, a circus trainer was mauled by a lioness during a performance for a separate company. Maxim Orlov was clawed and bitten by the creature and it soon created mayhem. Because of the disaster, a pregnant audience member had an epileptic seizure after becoming overwhelmed by the attack.
Another bear attack happened back in 2019. During a show in Olonets – a town 180 kilometers from St Petersburg – a bear attacked its trainer and forced him to the floor after biting the man’s head and neck. A video was captured during the event and it showed the bear, which weighed nearly 600 pounds, pushing a wheelbarrow on its hind legs before lunging at the trainer.
More recently, a Russian man was mauled and killed by a trained bear because the man forgot to take off his Covid mask. Valentin Bulich, 28, was a worker at the circus and was trying to become an animal trainer. He had had success in the past when working with the young cubs, but when he secretly went into the bear’s cage after hours, the bear didn’t recognize the man in the mask and attacked.
Bulich was scalped by the bear and later died from his injuries at Vinogradov State Clinical Hospital. The bear in question, whose name is Yasha, will not be killed following the attack. The circus is saying that Bulich’s actions were a “gross violation of safety rules,” and Yasha is a trusted bear in the circus and typically works closely with humans.