A schoolboy, Nikita, was with his friends at a mini-zoo inside a resort in Sochi, Russia when he was mauled to death. Witnesses claim that the child got too close to the enclosure of two brown bears. The child was dragged into the enclosure as horrified witnesses watched the bears toss the boy around like a ball, mangling him to death. The mini zoo in the resort was ordered to shut down as it was deemed unsafe for visitors.

The 11-year-old boy was with two similarly aged girls. Nikita reportedly wanted to take pictures with the bears so he tried to get closer to them. The bears were separated from the visitors by two gates. The first gate which kept visitors out of the bears' reach was reportedly open. Taking advantage of the security lapse, the boy went into the space between the safety gate and the inner cage.

As guests often throw food at the bears, the animals dug a hole under the inner cage to get to the morsels. Using the hole under the cage, one of the bears grabbed Nikita and dragged him inside. The animals then savagely tore into the boy.

The terrified girls rushed to notify Nikita's parents. By the time the resort staff and the boy's parents found out about the incident, Nikita had been fatally wounded. The bears, which had grown up in the zoo after being found as orphaned cubs, were shot dead to retrieve the child.

An ambulance arrived at the resort and the medical team pronounced the child dead at the scene. Psychologists are working with the two girls who have been left traumatised by the incident.

Sochi mayor Alexey Kopaygorodsky ordered the resort's mini-zoo to be shut down as the resort failed to ensure the safety of the visitor. However, some witnesses claim that the child was to blame for the incident. According to one witness, the child trespassed into the space between the safety gate and the inner cage. He also swatted at the bears' paws in an attempt to impress the girls he was with.

The Daily Mail shared the response of Nikita's school psychologist, Tamara Dolotkazina, to the accusations. She stated that she knew the victim to be a "smart, nice boy." Dolotkazina extended her condolences to the student's family and criticised those blaming the victim.

A rescued brown bear is pictured at the Columbus Zoo
Brown bears pulled an 11-year-old into their cage, fatally mauling him. (representational image) Reuters