She was once a star performer at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and a favorite at the Big St. Petersburg State Circus, where she rode a motorcycle around the ring. But 36-year-old Katya the bear has fallen on hard times, living out a miserable existence in a cage within an old parked bus. Animal rights activists are up in arms, complaining about the filthy, cramped quarters.
Katya and another bear were crowd-pleasers at an opening ceremony at the 1980 Olympics, and she even has appeared in a couple of movies. But, after retiring in 2009, Katya has been confined to a painted circus bus planted in a parking lot just off a busy highway. All she can do all day is try to get out. Her yellow teeth are cracked from gnawing on the metal railings.