An airline has apologised after a bear being transported on a passenger flight from Baghdad to Dubai escaped from its crate in the cargo hold of the plane.
Iraqi Airways said on Friday that the animal had to be sedated and taken off the flight on arrival at Dubai International Airport.
A return flight from the emirate to the Iraqi capital was delayed as a result.
Iraqi Airways flights land at Terminal 2 of Dubai International Airport.
“The company apologises to the passengers of the flight from Baghdad International Airport to Dubai Airport for reasons beyond the control of the company,” the airline said in a statement on its website.
“The delay happened because of a shipment in the cargo hold.
“Upon arrival to Dubai Airport, the animal escaped the crate specified for its shipment.”
The statement said the bear was being transported in line with international animal welfare guidelines.
“The plane crew co-ordinated with UAE's authority who sent a specialised team to sedate the animal and take it off the plane,” it continued.
“After checking the plane and making sure there is no damage from this incident the flight returned to Baghdad.”
The airline did not disclose why the bear was being transported to the UAE or any further information on its well-being.
Dubai Airports have been contacted for comment.
Animal mishaps in the air
The bear's great escape is not the first time animals and aviation have proven to be an unfortunate combination.
In January, a cat slipped out of its carrier and roamed the aisles on a flight from Dallas to San Francisco.
Video showed a flight attendant picking up the cat and walking up and down the plane in search of the embarrassed owner.
In December, a dog bound for Nashville in the US instead ended up in Saudi Arabia.
The family pet, called Bluebell, was being transported from London with British Airways, as her owners were moving to the United States.
When the family were presented with a different dog, a search was launched to find Bluebell.
She was located in the Middle East and owner and pet were reunited three days later.
In 2013, a light aircraft hit a sheep during an emergency landing in Wales, but the animal escaped unscathed.
The sheep was struck by the right wing of the small craft which had to make an abrupt touchdown due to engine failure.