THE identify of a mystery animal that looked like a bear but with a wolf's body has been revealed.
Images of the creature went viral on social media earlier this week as users speculated what it was.
It is in fact a dog that has been bred to look like a bear who was found living homeless on the streets of Chelyabinsk in Russia.
Locals were left baffled after the brown animal was brought into an animal shelter.
Vets had estimated the animal was around four-years-old and male.
Animal rights activists in the region said they had never seen anything like it before.
One, who gave his name only as Igor, said: "It has a difficult character, actually a little noxious.
"We had a tough time with it, while we were transporting it. The new owner would have to spend a lot of time in order to figure out an individual approach to this animal."
After the revelation that the animal was a dog, pet experts hit out at the "cruel breeding" used to create it.
It was rejected by its original owners for being aggressive and is now in "serious stress", said Polina Kefer, who runs animal sanctuary Nash Dom.
Its current behaviour is worsened by its cruel treatment when it was thrown unwanted on to the street.
She believes it is a cross between a Chow Chow and a wild street stray.
"This dog is in serious stress," she said. "We are looking for some really experienced carers for him, but have not found them yet.
"This dog is a ‘badly-made’ Chow Chow … by those pet markets where irresponsible breeders sell pets pretending that they are a pure breed.
"People buy such puppies and once they grow into something like this dog, they just throw them out like a broken toy."
The dog has a "distinctive blue tongue" which indicates it is part Chow Chow, originally from northern China and known as a "puffy lion dog", likely crossed with a "long nosed" stray, she told The Siberian Times.
The animal has been nicknamed Medvebaka – made up of the Russian words for bear and dog, medved and sobaka.
"Sadly the dog is so stressed it fights and bites back," she said. "We think it might take months to socialise him."
One owner who tried to rescue the animal was forced to give up.
"The dog hid inside an outdoor kennel and refused to come out," said a shelter volunteer. "With his new family he was trying to escape.
"He hated the leash, and showed no interest whatsoever in making friends.
"We tried our best foods on him, but the dog is clearly so stressed that it might take weeks, if not months, to help him trust people again."
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