An ice-skating bear from Russia has attacked and killed a circus director during rehearsals for a show in Kyrgyzstan.
The five-year-old bear, part of a visiting troupe from the prestigious Russian state circus, was wearing ice skates when he lashed out at his handlers and circus staff before a performance of their “Bears on Ice” show in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.
He dragged 25-year-old circus director Dmitry Potapov across the ice rink by his neck and nearly severed his victim’s legs.
Mr Potapov died at the scene from his injuries.
Another circus employee who attempted to rescue Mr Potapov while he was being mauled was also severely injured during the attack.
“The victim has sustained serious injuries – deep scalp lacerations, bruising of the brain, lacerations on his body. His condition is considered critical,” said Dr Gulnara Tashibekova, who was among the medical team who attended the scene.
The bear was later shot dead by police in the Central Asian republic.
The incident was not the first time a visiting Russian bear was involved in a deadly attack in Kyrgyzstan. In 2002 a bear on loan from Russia to the Bishkek city zoo attacked and killed a small child who had reached out to pet it.
In that incident, local experts blamed the animal’s aggressive behaviour on its severe malnourishment.
But deadly attacks are surprisingly rare in the country’s popular circuses, which often use trained bears for comedic effect.
Training bears to wear and use ice skates and even play ice hockey is a standard stunt for the Russian circus.