A schoolboy was mauled to death by a pair of brown bears that dragged him inside their cage as he apparently tried to impress two girls.
The 11-year-old youngster, named only as Nikita, was thrown around “like a ball” by the raging predators and killed while on holiday with his family, according to reports.
Nikita had been “showing off” his “bravery” in front of two girls – allegedly “provoking” the beasts and slapping their paws – and was trying to pose for a photo in front of the caged animals, but he got too close.
The girls – around the same age as the victim – watched in horror as the bears clawed and bit their helpless friend, hurling him around their cage in the Russian Black Sea resort Sochi, best known for hosting the Winter Olympics in 2014.
The girls screamed for assistance and called their parents but by the time help arrived, it was too late to save the “very smart and nice boy”.
Staff at the guest house shot both predators dead so that the boy’s motionless and bloody body could be retrieved.
An ambulance crew confirmed his death shortly after 6pm on Tuesday.
Psychologists are now working with the traumatised girls.
The bears’ outer cage gate had been left “unlocked” at a guest house’s mini-zoo in the Dagomys district of the sprawling Black Sea resort.
Nikita went in but then was pulled inside the inner cage via a hole dug by the bears under the bars, it was reported.
Eyewitnesses claimed the boy had been “provoking the bears”, slapping their paws.
A resident told Vesti Kuban: “He opened the gate, went in, wanting to take a picture.
“He slapped the bears’ paws to show how cool he was.
“A hole had been dug under the cage and they just pulled the boy through this.
“They were tossing him around like a ball. He was all broken.”
A criminal case has been opened into “causing death by negligence” against the guest house owners, said the Russian Investigative Committee.