The black bear that bit a toddler at the Greater Vancouver Zoo will not be euthanized, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service says
In a statement, Insp. Murray Smith said a black bear bit the two-year-old girl’s arm on Monday, after which the bear enclosure at the zoo in Aldergrove was shut down and the child rushed to hospital. The status of her condition has not been released.
The girl, named Sophia, and her mother were celebrating B.C. Day with a trip to the zoo when something went terribly wrong.
Animal care manager Menita Prasad said the child had gotten into a staff-only area, and that the zoo’s primary concern is her and her family.
Greater Vancouver Zoo's animal care manager Menita Prasad gives an update on yesterday’s incident in which a black bear bit a two-year-old girl. Story: https://www.aldergrovestar.com/news/2-year-old-airlifted-to-hospital-from-zoo-after-alleged-bear-bite/Posted by Aldergrove Star on Tuesday, August 6, 2019
“The team at the zoo are deeply shocked and saddened by the accident that occurred yesterday and we are working on all fronts to gather all the information with all parties involved,” Prasad said.
Three orphaned black bear cubs live in the enclosure in the zoo’s far southeast corner.
The distance between the first gate and the enclosure, where the toddler was bitten, “ranges from four to five feet,” she added. “The distance is meant to be more than an average person’s arm’s reach.”
Even zoo workers do not maintain close contact with any of the large exotic animals, including the bears.
“We recognize that there is always room for improvement,” Prasad said. “If there are areas for improvement, then yes, we will make the necessary changes.”
Accidents can happen anywhere, she added, telling parents to keep their children safe.
Visitors to the zoo on Tuesday were surprised to hear the news. Jennifer Bauer came up from Bellingham with her daughter, Emma.
“It’s terrifying,” Bauer said, saying it would be sad if the bear had to have been put down.
Aldergrove resident Devoni Wennerstrom, who was there with her three children, was puzzled that the girl was able to get that close.
“There are two sets of fences,” Devoni said. “We tell our children to stay away from the farthest fence.”
Police met with the BC Conservation Officer Service on Tuesday afternoon to determine if a criminal investigation is warranted, said Langley RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Craig van Herk.
The zoo has one grizzly bear and five black bears on its 21-acre property in Aldergrove. It was open during its usual hours Tuesday, with the black bear enclosure cordoned off.