Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI statement on circus bear attack in Karelia, Russia

Posted: 24 October 2019. Updated: 24 October 2019

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has renewed its call to the Russian government to stop circus suffering and protect public safety after a bear attacked a presenter during a circus performance in Karelia. Video footage shows the bear, after being forced to push a wheelbarrow in the circus ring, attacking and knocking the presenter to the ground, another member of staff kicking out to make the animal stop. The presenter is reported to have been injured, but the details are unknown.

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “Using wild animals in circuses compromises their welfare, with no regard given to the animals’ wellbeing or physical needs. With both animals and people being put in harm’s way, Animal Defenders International urges the Russian government and other countries to stop circus suffering, and these exploitative, dangerous acts, without delay.”

The attack follows a growing list of circus animal incidents in the country, and worldwide. During the soccer World Cup last year, a “nervous” bear attacked a circus presenter during a performance in Volgograd, Russia. Trying to escape the circus ring, having entered on a skateboard down a ramp, the bear was beaten with sticks to stop the attack. The member of staff escaped serious injury, and the audience was unharmed, although, as in the latest incident, there were no safety barriers in place.

ADI has submitted to the Russian government evidence outlining the animal welfare and public safety issues associated with the use of wild animals in circuses and urged them to act.

ADI is currently in Guatemala helping enforce legislation banning the use of animals in circuses nationwide, as it has done previously in Bolivia and Peru. At its temporary rescue center in the country the organization is caring for 21 lions and tigers until they are relocated to their forever homes. For most of the animals this will be to the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa, already home to 25 ex-circus lions. To support the rescue operation, donate here.

Studies of the use of wild animals in traveling circuses show that circuses cannot meet the physical or behavioral needs of wild animals. Animals are confined in small spaces, deprived of physical and social needs, spending excessive amounts of time shut in transporters. These animals are often seen behaving abnormally; rocking, swaying, and pacing, all indicating that they are in distress and not coping with their environment. ADI’s video evidence has shown how these animals are forced to perform tricks through physical violence, fear, and intimidation.

Media contacts:
Lesley McCave, ADI Communications Director: (323) 935-2234, (323) 804-9920, or

Angie Greenaway, 020 7630 3344, 07785 552548, or

© Animal Defenders International 2020