Bear performing before Russian league match branded 'inhumane' by PETA
Footage of a bear performing in front of fans before a Russian league match has been condemned as "shocking and inhumane" by animal welfare group PETA.
The bear, named Tima, is seen holding the match ball before clapping to fans before kick-off in the third-tier match between Mashuk-KMV and Angusht in Pyatigorsk on Saturday, while standing on his hind legs.
"In addition to being inhumane and utterly out of touch, using a bear as a captive servant to deliver a football is downright dangerous," Elisa Allen, director of animal welfare charity Peta, told the BBC.
"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."
Angusht said in a post on their Facebook page that Tim would perform at the opening ceremony of this summer's World Cup in Moscow. However, the BBC reports that tournament organisers FIFA have denied that claim.
The visitors won the match 3-0.
Elsewhere, another incident involving an animal occurred in Russia on Sunday when rooster was thrown onto the field at a match in Russia's second tier as an apparent act of anti-gay abuse against a coach.
Footage from Sunday's game between Fakel Voronezh and Luch-Energiya Vladivostok shows a fan picking up the apparently distressed bird, taking it to the front of the stand, and throwing it. The rooster flutters over to the touchline as the man cheers and makes an obscene gesture.
Other fans are heard chanting "Grigoryan is a rooster," a reference to Vladivostok coach Alexander Grigoryan. "Rooster" is often used as a term of anti-gay abuse in Russia.
Vladivostok fans have frequently aimed abuse at coach Grigoryan this season, and he has complained of receiving phone calls with threats.
Information from Associated Press was used in this report