Iraq’s prime minister has now waded into a row over who is responsible for a bear getting loose in the cargo hold of a plane.
Iraqi Airways said it was not to blame for the bear’s escape from its crate as the aircraft waited to take off from Dubai International Airport on Friday.
The flight was delayed as authorities dispatched specialists to sedate the animal and remove it from the plane.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shayya’ Sabbar al Sudani has ordered an investigation.
A video clip circulating on social media showed the plane’s captain apologising to passengers for Friday’s take-off delay because of the bear’s bid for freedom.
Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, declined to comment.
The airline said the bear was being flown from Baghdad to Dubai, but an Iraqi Airways official speaking anonymously confirmed that the bear was instead being transported to the Iraqi capital.
The name and species of the bear have not been made public.
Keeping predatory animals as pets in Iraq – especially in Baghdad – has become popular among the wealthy and authorities have struggled to enforce legal provisions to protect wild animals.
Baghdad’s police have previously called on citizens to assist authorities in preventing such animals from being let loose on the city’s streets or ending up as exotic meals in restaurant by reporting such cases.
While not a common air travel issue, this isn’t the first time a bear has caused airport delays.
In 2021 a wild brown bear disrupted flights in a city in northern Japan and injured four people before being killed by authorities.