(NBC) – A crowd’s laughter changed to screams of horror after a bear in a traveling circus attacked its handler and then turned toward the people watching.
Amateur video taken by a woman in the audience captured the moment when the bear, walking on its hind legs, attacked its trainer, bit him and knocked him to the ground.
Another handler kicked the bear to try and stop the attack.
People screamed in horror and began to run for the exits.
Local media and witnesses said the bear then turned to the people watching, but was subdued by an electric prod.
There were no barriers between the bear and the audience.
Russian officials said they’ve opened into a criminal investigation into whether the circus acted in a safe manner.
The incident occurred in Olonets, about 110 miles northeast of St. Petersburg.
At least 52 countries around the world have banned using wild animals in circuses.
Both the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circuses have closed due to the American public’s disapproval of them using wild animals.
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