Animal Rights Groups Slam 'Inhumane' Bear Stunt at Russian Soccer Match

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A bear, yes you that read that correctly, an actual bear has handed over the match ball to the referee at a third division Russian soccer match.

A YouTube video emerged of the animal being led into a stadium by his "trainer" and made to clap for fans before the match between FC Mashuk-KMV and FC Angusht Nazran in the city of Pyatigorsk.

Turns out, the referee had to take the ball from the bear. The bear was then escorted off the field by its handler.

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.

"In addition to being inhumane and utterly out of touch, using a bear as a captive servant to deliver a football is downright unsafe unless, as is often the case, the animal's teeth and claws have been cruelly removed", Ms Bekhechi told SBS News in a statement.

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The stadium commentator joked that the bear Tim would open the matches for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russian Federation. Common decency should compel the league to pull this stunt'.

The stunt elicited sharp condemnation from animal welfare groups.

Brian da Cal, country director of charity Four Paws UK, said forcing bears to perform can be stressful for the animals.

She said that bears are wild and their hnadlers should always take note of their needs.

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.

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