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Bears walk tightrope in Russian circus

Wednesday, March 06, 2013 - 01:16

A circus in St. Petersburg trains bears to do high-wire tightrope walking. Tara Cleary reports.

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The ever-popular circus tightrope act. But now, in what's sure to spark outrage from animal protection groups, the Bolshoi Circus in Russia is coercing brown bears to balance on the high wire. Troupe leader Alexander Ivanov admits his bears do suffer from a fear of heights -- but that's not stopping him from taking their feet off the ground. He insists that both the human performers and the muzzled bears in his circus are equal. SOUNDBITE: Alexander Ivanov, bear tightrope walkers lead trainer, saying (Russian): "I don't make a distinction between bears and performers. There's just one team, as you see at the performance. We have sailors, bear sailors wearing sailor shirts and pants, and people acting as sailors, and we have an adventure of our own. And there are lots of daring things happening in the ring when we perform. So I have one team, a team of bears and actors. That's how we work here." Ivanov inherited the idea of incorporating bear rope walkers into his troupe from his father Mikhail, a renowned star in Soviet times.

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Bears walk tightrope in Russian circus

Wednesday, March 06, 2013 - 01:16