Circus worker scalped to death by bear ‘was teaching himself to be trainer’

A circus worker mauled to death by a performing bear was "trying to teach himself how to become a trainer" when he was killed.

Valentin Bulich, 28, dreamed of being a tamer and had successfully worked with cubs, said his mother Elena, 52.

He secretly took the keys to a bear’s cage confident he could “find a common language” with the performing beast.

But the giant seven year old tore off his scalp and clawed his body in an agonising attack.

The animal has now been named as Yasha – famed for being trusted enough to get up close to humans.

In August, the beast gave a pre-match “pep talk” to a football team in Moscow.

Two years ago the bear pushed an injured circus gymnast in a wheelchair and licked his face after his release from hospital.

Pictures show the killer bear with his tamer Oleg Alexandrov.

Fellow workers at Great Moscow State Circus pulled grievously wounded Bulich clear of Yasha’s cage – but he died at hospital soon afterwards.

The victim’s grief-stricken mother Elena said he son “overestimated” his skills in handling a bear in pursuit of his dream to graduate from being a cage cleaner to handling bears.

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“He apparently decided that since he could cope with cubs, he would find an approach to an adult bear,” she told Moskovsky Komsomolets.

"He was very trusting, kind and naive.”

She said: “He wanted to try to find a common language with the big bear.

“He told me he was already good at communicating with cubs.

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“I supported him, telling him ‘You will not be a cleaner all your life’.”

The circus said Bulich had committed a “gross violation of safety rules” in entering the bear cage.

A source said: “The bear may attack simply from fright.

“But it attacks sharply, quickly, without warning.

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“The reaction is lightning fast.

“And death is terrible – the bear just tears apart.”

The bear will not be destroyed despite killing a human, say the circus.

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Irina Novozhilova, of animal rights group VITA, said: “No circus conditions will be humane for one simple reason.

“Training goes hand in hand with cruelty….

“Circuses are always cruel beyond limits.

“And circuses with animals should be banned.”

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