Thursday, 7 April 2011

Man caught smuggling bear across Russian border

Syrian Brown Bears are an endangered species

The BBC reported today that Russian customers officers found a man trying to smuggle a bear out of Russia into Ukraine, hiding it under a blanket in his van.

The Ukrainian citizen, reportedly a circus performer, was stopped at the Belgorod border crossing. He didn’t have any documents for the bear, but he said that he performed with the bear and never went anywhere without her.

Customs officers said the bear was an aged female Syrian Brown Bear, which is an endangered species.

The man said he was returning from Moscow to his home in Yevpatoria, in the Crimea. Customs officials are trying to decide what to do with the bear.

Animals crossing borders in the region have caused problems before, although generally not for the same reason. In late March this year, Belarus detained a number of circus animals on their way from Poland to Russia where they were due to perform because of incomplete paperwork.

A similar incident occurred on the Russian-Ukrainian border in early 2009, when 20 camels were held up for two weeks before being allowed to enter Ukraine. In these situations the animals are typically held in their trucks, and are not allowed to move freely. The situation in 2009 resulted in one camel's death after it succumbed to the freezing temperatures.

Bears are still used in circuses in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, despite attempts by animal rights activists to stop the process. The UK recently banned the use of wild animals in circuses.

Sources: BBC News,, Ria Novosti

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