Moscow: Russian beachgoers got a shock when they saw a donkey soaring in the blue skies over the beaches along the Sea of Azov in southern Russia last week, police said on Tuesday.
Attached to a parachute, the animal screamed in fear as it circled over heads of holidaymakers sunbathing on a beach in the Krasnodar region.
A regional police spokeswoman said the donkey ended up in the skies as a result of an impromptu advertising campaign by several Russian entrepreneurs to attract beachgoers to their private beach.
Instead, they attracted the attention of police who learnt of the flying donkey this week and launched a probe.
"The donkey screamed and children cried," regional police spokeswoman Larisa Tuchkova said. "No one had the brains to call police."
Instead, she said, people reached for their cameras and bombarded a local newspaper with phone calls.
"It was put up so high into the sky that the children on the beach cried and asked their parents: "Why did they tie a doggy to a parachute?" the newspaper, Taman, said late last week.
"The donkey landed in an atrocious manner: it was dragged several metres along the water, after which the animal was pulled out half-alive onto the shore."
The incident is stunning even for a country where animal cruelty is widespread and came as a shock to the locals, said Taman newspaper's editor, Elena Iovleva.
"This has never happened before," she said.
Do you think this is a case of animal cruelty? Should these kinds of stunts be banned? Have we begun to lose sight of animal rights in our quest to entertain and draw in sales?