Animal rights groups slam bear use at Russian soccer match

MOSCOW — Animal rights groups have condemned the use of a bear that performed before a Russian soccer match.

The routine happened before a Russia second division match Sunday in the city of Pyatigorsk. TV footage from the game showed the animal being led to the Mashuk-KMV Pyatigorsk club’s stadium, clapping at spectators. The bear, named Tima, also held the ball before handing it over to the referee.

The stadium’s announcer claimed that the bear will take part in the World Cup’s opening ceremony in Moscow in June, but soccer authorities haven’t confirmed that. The club’s manager says it was borrowed from a circus.

The New York-based World Animal Protection group condemned the stunt Monday, saying that it’s clear from the footage that “cruel training methods have been used” on the bear.

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