Video footage of a polar bear in Russia walking across a snowy area with black letters spray-painted on its body is disturbing, but should not pose a health hazard to the animal, officials said.
The phrase "T-34," which was the name of an old Soviet Union tank, was posted Dec. 1 on Facebook by Sergey Kavry, who is a member of a World Wildlife Fund-supported polar bear patrol group in the eastern Russian village of Chukotka, NBC News reported.
The video post has since been removed from Facebook, the network reported. The video remains on Instagram, although the post is in Russian.
In his social media comments, Kavry said he obtained the video through WhatsApp from indigenous minorities in Chukotka, CNN reported. It is not clear from the video where it was filmed, the network reported.
"I don't know the details of which region, district, or vicinity this [footage] was taken," Kavry told the BBC. "If it's a military lettering theme... that is some kind of perverse disrespect for history."
Some people who responded to the Facebook post expressed concern the bear would be unable to blend into the snowy environment, putting the animal at risk, NBC News reported.
Kavry also was concerned. "Why?! He won't be able to hunt without being noticed!" Kavry wrote on Facebook, People reported.
In a statement to NBC News, the WWF said it was "surprised" to learn about the bear, but added, "Our polar bear experts do not believe there will be any long-term harm to the animal as a result."
Anatoly Kochnev, a scientist at the Institute of Biological Problems of the North, told the BBC it was unlikely the bear could have been spray-painted without it being sedated.
Kochnev said it could take weeks for the markings to wash off, the network reported.