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Circus Bear Attacks Trainer As Panicked Audience Members Flee

A circus bear has attacked and injured its trainer during a performance in northern Russia.

Video of the attack in Olonets, a town 180 kilometres northeast of St Petersburg, shows the bear pushing a wheelbarrow while walking on its hind legs.

The bear then attacks the trainer, biting him and forcing him to the floor.

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Another trainer hurries forward and kicks the bear repeatedly.

According to reports, audience members initially thought the incident was part of the show, before realising the trainer was in serious distress. (Image: AAP)

The online news site gazeta.ru cited a witness as saying the bear then ventured into the audience area before being subdued with an electric shocker.

According to reports, audience members initially thought the incident was part of the show, before quickly realising the trainer was in serious distress.

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There were no barriers between the circus ring and the audience during Thursday's show, and screams were heard on video as onlookers fleed for the exits.

The Interfax news agency said the Investigative Committee has opened a criminal investigation on a charge of providing unsafe services.