Animal rights groups have condemned a trainer who left a bear tied to a street light in a hailstorm before taking shelter in a bar during a festival in Spain.

The incident took place in the Valencian village of Càrcer during the Festival of Moors and Christians, which is especially popular in the region.

Spanish animal rights organisation Faada have criticised the unnamed man for cruelty against the animal, which was being trained to dance and play the trumpet during the parade.

Witnesses said the man returned from the bar inebriated and began to push the bear around, tugging at the animal's head using a rope, the Europa Press reported.

Faada has reported the incident to the Spanish Civil Guard's environmental wing, Seprona, in light of previous incidences of animal cruelty the man has reportedly committed.

Although tame bears, often called dancing bears, are frowned upon by animal rights activists, they are still used as tourist attractions across the world. Young bears are captured and trained using often cruel methods and have their teeth and claws filed down to prevent injury to trainers.

In 2007 the debate was inflamed by a European Brown bear touring with a medieval market near Seville, and three Siberian bears performing at a Granada circus.

The Society for the Protection of Animals of Alcoy filed a complaint against the ill treatment of the brown bear in April.

The Festival of Moors and Christians dates back to the 16th century, commemorating the confrontation that took place between Moorish and Christian soldiers in the 13th century over the rule of Spain.

The festivities are popular in Valencia and Alicante and attract hundreds of tourists.