But not everyone was impressed. The video quickly went viral, with many fans and viewers criticizing organizers for promoting a display that likely wasn’t much fun for the captive bear — whose name is Tim, and who belongs to a Russian traveling circus.
“No wild animal should be used as a prop or forced to perform unnatural acts for our entertainment,” DJ Schubert, a wildlife biologist with the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), told The Dodo. “What may appear to a spectator to be a few moments of levity at the beginning of an athletic competition conceals the true story of these animals’ lives. Theirs is a tedious, barren, wholly unnatural existence that all too often involves abusive training techniques, inadequate housing, and poor veterinary care. There is simply no place in sport for wild animal mascots.”