A video clip of a bear being driven around in Moscow to celebrate Russia's victory over Saudi Arabia last Thursday (June 14) has gone viral, receiving criticism from animal lovers.
In the 45-second clip tweeted by football journalist Peter Staunton, the bear is seen blowing a vuvuzela while sitting upright.
Passers-by were taking photos and videos of the trained animal playing the instrument.
After the bear's handler seated beside the animal grabs the vuvuzela out of its paws, the bear - a symbol of Russia - then begins to perform a gesture.
Mr Staunton initially tweeted that it could be a quenelle gesture, which has been associated with anti-Semitism.
However, he later corrected himself after a Russian netizen tweeted at him, saying that "in Russia, nobody knows about quenelle".
"It's just a Russian version of middle finger gesture, means 'up yours' without any racial or political connotations," said the netizen.
The clip of the bear, which has since garnered nearly 1.5 million views, was nonetheless criticised by animal lovers.
One response read: "If that bear went on a rampage, I wouldn't shed a tear."
Meanwhile, another Twitter user said: "Poor bear. My heart hurts thinking about what led it there, and what others are in similar situations."
Others defended the bear's handlers, saying that bears have been domesticated in Russia.
"Bears are naturally kind animals and these ones in Russia have been domestic for many generations, so they do not need to be beat to train them. They are trained by a method of rewarding, like training a dog," read one tweet.
In April, the same bear was spotted at a football match in Russia, to present the ball to the referee while standing upright.
After handing the ball over, the bear then performed gestures resembling clapping.
Animal activist groups promptly criticised the stunt, saying that it was "inhumane".
"To see such a majestic animal reduced to a pitch-side crowd-pleasing clown is utterly devastating," Ms Wendy Higgins, a spokesman for the Humane Society International, told The Independent.
"This bear belongs in the wild, not passed from pillar to post to be rented out as a mascot."
Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) also responded, saying that using the bear has likely had its teeth and claws been "cruelly removed".