California governor candidate brings bear to rally

Tag the Kodiak bear sits behind California Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox as he speaks during a campaign rally at Miller Regional Park. AFP/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

SACRAMENTO - One of the many Republican candidates vying to replace the governor of California in an upcoming vote caused a stir by bringing a bear to his political rally.

John Cox is campaigning on the theme of "beauty and the beast" - the "beauty" being current Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, known for his primped appearance in the state that is home to Hollywood. 

Cox has cast himself as the "beast" who will shake up politics in the most populous US state, where a brown bear features prominently on its flag.

"The beautiful politicians have failed California," Cox said during a rally in Sacramento, the state capital.

"We need big, beastly changes to save it. I'll cut taxes, make California more affordable and shake up Sacramento."

For a publicity stunt, Cox brought a Kodiak bear, considered the largest ursine species, to his rally. 

The bear, named "Tag," weighs about 500kg and was born in captivity and trained to appear in films and television series.

Tag displayed a locally appropriate laid-back attitude, content to wait patiently for the end of Cox's speech, munching on snacks given by his trainer or grooming himself with his tongue.

But the use of a bear for political and publicity purposes caused an outcry among animal rights advocates, such as PETA, who said it was "unfortunate and shameful that Tag the Kodiak bear has been exploited in this way."

"Bears need to be left alone, not confined to an open pen on asphalt and wheeled out for events," the NGO said on Twitter, urging "anyone with an ounce of decency to keep wild animals out of their publicity stunts."

Source
AFP

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