Iraq’s prime minister has ordered an investigation into how a bear escaped from its crate aboard an airliner as it prepared to leave Dubai airport.
Iraqi Airways on Saturday said it wasn’t to blame for the animal’s escape and that the aircraft’s crew worked with authorities in the United Arab Emirates, which dispatched specialists to sedate the bear and remove it from the plane.
A video clip circulating on social media showed the plane’s captain apologising to passengers for the delay to take-off on Friday because of the bear’s escape from its crate in the cargo hold.
Iraqi Airways said procedures to transport the bear were carried out in accordance with the law and with standards approved by the International Air Transport Association.
A person speaking in the video clip can be heard saying that the aircraft was an hour late for its trip to Baghdad and that passengers were being asked to disembark until the issue was resolved.
An Iraqi Airways official confirmed that the bear was being transported to the Iraqi capital. The official declined to reveal the identity of the animal’s owner.
Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, declined to comment.
Keeping predatory animals as pets in Iraq – especially in Baghdad – has become popular among the wealthy. Iraqi authorities have struggled to enforce laws protecting wild animals.
Baghdad’s police have previously called on citizens to help the authorities prevent such animals from being let loose on the city’s streets or ending up as exotic meals in restaurants by reporting such cases.