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Bear fatally shot after escaping exhibit in Florida and attacking zookeeper

North American Black Bear
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

JACKSONVILLE, FL — Officials at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens reported that they were forced to euthanize a 5-year-old black bear after the bear escaped and engaged with a zookeeper.

The incident occurred around 5:10 p.m. Wednesday behind the scenes at the zoo. 

According to Kelly Rouillard, director of marketing for the Zoo and Gardens, after the bear named Johnny escaped the exhibit and endangered the life of a zookeeper:

“Emergency protocols were put in place. The bear was shot and killed,” Rouillard said. “The keeper at this time does not appear to have life-threatening injuries, but was transported to the hospital for further evaluation.”

When asked about a tranquilizer, Rouillard said that their priority was to save someone’s life and that the tranquilizer would not have been effective. 

The incident will be investigated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Captive Wildlife Office.

The zoo has since reopened.