The monkey that was attacked by a bear when an animal Olympics event in China went badly wrong was apparently not injured and both creatures have resumed performing the same act, a zoo official claimed.
A video of the incident has gone viral on the internet, showing the bear attacking the monkey after it fell off its bicycle during a pursuit race at a Chinese zoo.
The monkey loses control of its bicycle as it is being chased by the bear. After the crash, the bear pounces and proceeds to bite and claw the monkey at the Shanghai Wild Animal Park.
Zoo keepers then beat the bear with wooden sticks, prompting it to eventually release the monkey.
A park official confirmed the incident, which happened Sunday, to AFP but defended the show, saying the monkey was not injured and both animals had resumed performing the same act.
"The monkey and bear involved have been partners for more than five years and this kind of accident has never happened before," she told AFP.
"The performance was designed according to the animals' natural habits," she added. "Monkeys are good at climbing and imitating, while bears have good stamina, and this is an example of the zoo's initiative to keep them healthy through exercise."
However, animal rights groups have expressed outrage about the practise.
"The performance is pure mistreatment," Zhang Dan, co-founder of the China Animal Protection Media Saloon, was quoted as saying by the China Daily newspaper on Friday.
"It goes totally against the nature of the animal. But they cannot speak for themselves about their fear, pain, or unwillingness."
Recent images of tigers being mistreated at parks in China's northwestern province of Jilin and the eastern province of Zhejiang have also caused anger, state media said earlier this month.
China has no laws specifically against cruelty to animals and zoo visitors and staff members are sometimes able to abuse captive creatures without sanction.
"China needs national legislation on animal abuse," the China Daily quoted Hua Ning of the International Fund for Animal Welfare as saying.
The Shanghai park has previously locked horns with activists over performances featuring animals, including acts such as monkeys climbing poles and elephants playing football.