Europe

Man caught 'with bear in blanket' on Russian border

A brown bear (generic image)
Image caption Bears continue to feature in circuses in the region

Russian customs have stopped a man suspected of trying to smuggle an elderly she-bear into Ukraine, hiding it under a blanket in his van.

The Ukrainian citizen, said to be a circus performer, was found to have no documents for the bear, which he had not declared, Russian media report.

He reportedly told customs he had performed with the bear the world over and never went anywhere without her.

Customs officers in Belgorod region are now deciding what to do with the beast.

They said in a statement that the creature found in the unnamed man's Renault Kangoo belonged to an endangered species, the Syrian Brown Bear.

The man said he was returning with his bear from the Moscow area to his home in Yevpatoria, in the Crimea.

He regarded her as a member of his own family, he added.

Bears continue to feature in circuses in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union.

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