Spectators were left aghast when a 660-pound black bear viciously mauled its trainer during a routine performance in Olonets, Karelia Thursday.

According to Russia-based website Vesti News, the animal attacked happened during the performance of “Clubfoot and Garden Wheelbarrow” inside the Shapito Full House Tent. At first, the routine went well: Yashka the bear, who stood upright, followed the instructions of its trainer, Ruslan Solodyuk, to push the wheelbarrow in front of it and follow him across the mat.

However, things got ugly when Solodyuk, who was apparently preparing for another trick, raised his hand and shouted sharply. The bear then suddenly lunged, and its sudden force and weight was enough to knock Solodyuk flat on his back and on to the mat.

Brown Bear
In this photo, 17-year old male brown bear Felix strolls through his enclosure at a zoo in Bratislava, Slovakia, Nov. 13, 2014. Getty Images/ JOE KLAMAR

Video footage from one of the spectators who witnessed the incident also showed another circus staff member rushing to the aid of the trainer where he kicked the animal on the flank and shoulder, said CNN.

After the attack, a circus spokeswoman told TACC that the artist was fine despite the “unfortunate incident. She added that Yashka had a muzzle on its jaw and that it was driven away from the man shortly afterwards.

No one in the audience, which included a large number of children, was injured despite no fences were placed between them and the performers, while the trainer refused medical care.

The website’s interlocutor believed that flashes from some of the audiences’ devices had frightened the animal and instigated the attack.

Fox News pointed that the bear ventured to the audience area but was subdued with an electric shocker.

Following the attack, Solodyuk admitted that he never imagined that Yashka would attack him, but also said that the bear might have done it because it was irritated due to its age and health condition.

“Yashka is huge, sick and old – 16 years old. The animal occasionally hurts joints… In spring and autumn, just like people, Yashka’s problems worsen.”

The circus’ representative added that Yashka belonged to a handler and that the act had been cut from the show.

“We decided to part ways with the artist, and the act will be removed from the program. There is nothing serious, the artist is alright, the bear is alright, and nobody killed the bear because the animal is not to blame.”

The interlocutor also believed that the circus will focus on “dogs, monkeys and large animals” to address further human safety in the future.