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Terrifying moment ‘jealous’ brown bear mauls pregnant circus trainer in front of screaming children

Terrifying moment ‘jealous’ brown bear mauls pregnant circus performer in front of screaming children – but she escapes with just ‘scratches and a bruise’

  • A male brown bear mauled a pregnant trainer at a circus in western Russia
  • The woman said the performing bear may have been ‘jealous’ of her unborn child
  • Children and parents screamed as the attack happened but the woman survived


A circus bear that mauled a pregnant trainer in front of screaming children and their parents at a Russian circus may have attacked because it was ‘jealous’ of the woman’s unborn child.

The brown bear lunged at the woman during a circus act with two trainers and another bear in Oryol, western Russia.

She survived with only cuts and bruises and said her unborn child was unharmed.

The trainer said: ‘Perhaps it was jealousy to some extent, since I am pregnant.

‘There can be many nuances. 

‘I literally have two scratches and a slight bruise on my leg.

‘I will, of course, deal with this incident with more experienced colleagues.

‘With the animal everything is fine and my baby, all is normal.’ 

‘At the moment the bear behaves to me the same way as usual, affectionately and fondly again as if nothing happened.’

A male brown bear mauled a pregnant trainer during a circus act in Oryol, western Russia, in front of screaming children and their parents

The pregnant trainer had motioned for the bear to put its paw on a pole

The bear initially obeyed the trainer, who was wearing a bright blue dress and golden high heels

The pregnant trainer had motioned for the bear to put its paw on a pole. The bear initially obeyed the trainer, who was wearing a bright blue dress and golden high heels

The trainer said the bear may have been 'jealous' of her unborn child. Soon after putting its paw on the pole it took hold of her instead

The trainer said the bear may have been ‘jealous’ of her unborn child. Soon after putting its paw on the pole it took hold of her instead

The other trainer, who was wearing a long golden suit, and a staff member in a red polo shirt, rushed to help her

The other trainer, who was wearing a long golden suit, and a staff member in a red polo shirt, rushed to help her

As soon as the male brown bear started to maul the woman in the bright blue dress as two men rushed to free her from its grasp.

However, the male bear did not back off despite ‘blows with a whip’, one audience member said.

The bloodied circus performer was rushed to hospital after the terrifying incident in Oryol, which is 225 miles south of Moscow. 

The men grappled with the bear as they tried to free the pregnant trainer

People from the town said the bear was agitated and disturbed as it waited in a cage before the show

The men grappled with the bear as they tried to free the pregnant trainer. People from the town said the bear was agitated and disturbed as it waited in a cage before the show

Although the trainer and bear ‘hugged and made up’ after the attack, people from the town said the bear was agitated and disturbed as it waited in a cage before the show.

The bear has been barred from performances but is one of several performing at the circus.

It may have previously attacked another circus member and tried to escape. 

The woman was rushed to hospital by ambulance but only suffered minor cuts and bruises. She said both her unborn baby and the bear were alright

The woman was rushed to hospital by ambulance but only suffered minor cuts and bruises. She said both her unborn baby and the bear were alright

Irina Novozhilova is the head of Russian animal rights group Vita.

She said all circuses with live animals were ‘always cruel beyond limits’ should be banned.

‘No circus conditions will be humane for one simple reason,’ she said.

‘Training goes hand-in-hand with cruelty.

‘And circuses with animals should be banned.’

The Russian Investigative Committee has opened a probe into the attack.

A spokesman said: ‘The investigation is undertaking a set of measures to establish all the circumstances of the incident, interviewing circus employees, and witnesses.’ 

The cruel history of dancing and performing bears in Europe and Asia

In the Middle Ages, dancing or performing bears were a common form of entertainment in Europe and Asia.

They often featured in travelling circuses or individual performances, with the majority of trainers being Romany people from Eastern Europe.

Performing bears remained a common sight in Eastern Europe and parts of Asia well into the twentieth century, despite incremental efforts to introduce bans.

The bears were captured as cubs from the Himalayas, the Middle East and the jungles of the Indian sub-continent then trained to dance and perform tricks. 

Often the cub’s mother would be killed in the process of capturing the young bear. This practice continues in Siberia to this day. 

A bear entertains British soldiers in Southern Russia during the country's 1917-1922 civil war

A bear entertains British soldiers in Southern Russia during the country’s 1917-1922 civil war

The process of preparing the bear for training often involved inflicting great pain on the animal through removing its teeth, cutting its claws and inserting a metal ring into its nose.

During training, a rope attached to the nose ring would be yanked painfully and sometimes sticks and whips were also used to coax the bear into performing.

To create the illusion of dancing, the trainer would play music while the bear stood on a hot metal platform lifting one paw after another to avoid being burned. Subsequently, whenever the bear heard the same music, it would begin to ‘dance’.

A number of organisations are working to have performances featuring bears banned and to place the animals in sanctuaries, however the practice continues in some countries and even once rescued, bears often suffer from mental and physical ailments that result in an early death. 

Sources: Bearconservation.org.uk, Dancing Bears: True Stories of People Nostalgic for Life Under Tyranny – Witold Szablowski

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