Jacksonville zoo keeper attacked by bear with lacerations to head, back and thighs: police report

jacksonville, floridaEditor’s Note: Some of the details in this article may be difficult to hear. Discretion is recommended.

A 35-year-old keeper who was viciously attacked by a 5-year-old North American black bear at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on Wednesday suffered multiple lacerations to his head, back and thighs, according to a police report obtained by News4JAX on Thursday. .

A door to the bear’s enclosure was opened when the attack occurred, according to an incident report from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

“The bear came out of the open gate and went directly to the keeper, who was attacked,” the report said.

According to Kelly Louillard, the zoo’s director of marketing, a bear named Johnny Escape from the backstage exhibit after 5pm on Wednesday and “became involved with zookeepers behind the scenes” who asked for help.

“Another team member nearby heard the call for help and made an emergency call to get the weapons team started,” says Roillard.

A witness told police that she and her colleagues began throwing objects to keep the bear away from its keepers.

A lethal weapons team member saw the animal “aggressively attacking: the keeper when he arrived. said he feared for his keeper’s life when he fired four shots into the bear’s head from a 12-gauge shotgun, saying “the bear kept attacking ferociously”. his chest and back. He reported that the bear retreated behind an enclosure, where he collapsed and died.

“Our animal protection team has been caring for these animals for many years, so it is very unfortunate that they have to face this situation,” Louillard said.

The report points out that the bear did not have canine teeth. Rouillard said Johnny has been at the zoo since May 2017.

The zookeeper was taken to downtown UF Health Jacksonville Hospital with injuries that weren’t life-threatening at the time, reports said. There was no latest information about

Previous story: Jacksonville zoo keeper injured after bear shot after fleeing exhibit

Here is the statement from the zoo:

“Tonight at 5:10 pm, one of the North American black bears escaped from the exhibit and engaged a keeper backstage. The bear has been shot and killed as life safety is always our top priority.We will conduct an ongoing investigation over the next few days and weeks.We are not taking this lightly.Especially like this. It is very painful to lose an animal under such difficult circumstances.”

The zoo is open at regular hours on Thursdays from 9am to 5pm and ZooLights was from 6pm to 9pm, but Johnny’s exhibit is currently empty.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Office of Capture and Wildlife and the Office of Occupational Safety and Health are investigating the incident.

Injuries at the Jacksonville Zoo

Before Wednesday’s incident, nearly 18 months had passed since the Jacksonville Zoo’s last animal-human encounter.

In July 2021, the man Jumped over the jaguar habitat gate on display at the zoo After sticking my hand in the pen, I was scratched by a jaguar. The man, believed to be in his 20s, is in the hospital although his condition is not life-threatening.

February 2019, A zookeeper was injured by a rhinoceros horn during regular training sessions. She was taken to hospital for evaluation. Her FWC, which has jurisdiction over the state’s wildlife facilities, discovered that Robie was being pulled away from the rhino with a horizontal bar, but not before when something startled her 50-year-old rhino named Archie. I fell to She was hit first, and when she entered the enclosure with the 4,000-pound animal, she was hit again.

There were two incidents in 2018. A lion entered an exhibition that was being cleaned by a staff member who did not know of its existence. The employee escaped injury by jumping into the moat. In another of his cases, an elephant escaped from its enclosure for a short period of time and was brought back inside.

florida zoo injury

This isn’t the first time people have been attacked by animals at a Florida zoo.

A year ago, a janitor jumped over the fence at the Naples Zoo and plunged his arm into a tiger enclosure. The tiger grabbed and would not let go. A man was seriously injured and an endangered tiger was killed.

Because of that incident, the FWC held a series of hearings and changed how escape animal bites and injuries are reported.

A month ago, the FWC published proposed changes to the reporting of these incidents.

“Class 1” animals, including lions, jaguars and bears, do not currently need to report injury cases. The FWC has proposed that an injury or bite should be reported if the licensee or experience has serious bodily injury beyond basic first aid for the rest of the person.

The FWC says the change is important because it currently cannot recognize when repeated breakouts have occurred due to limited reporting.

No word yet on when the changes will go into effect.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX – All rights reserved.

https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2022/12/22/jacksonville-zookeeper-viciously-attacked-by-bear-suffered-lacerations-on-head-back-thighs-police-report/ Jacksonville zoo keeper attacked by bear with lacerations to head, back and thighs: police report

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