Scientists are searching for a wild polar bear who was seen with “T-34” sprayed on its fur in black letters, according to Russian media reports.
The T-34 was a Soviet tank used by the communist empire during the Second World War, but it is unclear if the paint on the side of the bear is a reference to the military vehicle.
Scientists are now searching for the bear that was filmed walking across the Chukotka autonomous region of Russia’s far east, according to the Moscow Times.
The Russian news site adds that it is unclear who sprayed the bear or why they did it.
Anatoly Kochnev, a senior researcher at the Institute of Biological Problems of the North, told the Siberian Times the black writing will most likely make it more difficult for the bear to hunt.
He added that “hopefully” the paint will wear off when the animal swims.
Mr Kochnev also said the accurate and clear writing suggested the bear must have been spray-painted while it was sedated for quite a long time.
Sergey Kavry, who works at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) nature organisation, shared a video of the bear on Facebook on Monday.
The clip had initially been uploaded to a WhatsApp group for Chukotka indigenous people, the Siberian Times reports.
It is not clear when the video was filmed.
Men can be heard speaking in Russian off-camera as they observe the bear walking across the snow.
One of them asks “why is it so dirty?” before another says “a spotty bear?”, according to the Siberian Times.
The Russian news site adds that it had to bleep the rest of the recording because of expletives.
Russian media has speculated the paint was linked to local anger around the increase in polar bears entering communities.
Polar bears are forced to move south to hunt for food when ice in the region becomes scarce, causing them to forage for food in human settlements.
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