A zookeeper is taken to the hospital after being attacked by a bear at the zoo in Jacksonville Wednesday afternoon.
NBC affiliate WTLV-TV is reporting that the incident occurred shortly after 5 p.m. at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, when the bear managed to “break his exhibit,” according to zoo officials.
The bear, identified as a 5-year-old American black bear, approached the non-customer facing side of the exhibit and had an encounter with the clerk. According to officials, the employees were forced to shoot the bear, which later died.
“Our top priority is always the safety of human life, so the bear was shot and killed,” the zoo said in a statement.
“We will conduct an ongoing investigation over the coming days and weeks. We don’t take it lightly. It hurts a lot when we lose an animal, especially in such circumstances.”
The zookeeper, who has not been identified, was taken to a hospital and is expected to recover.
A spokesperson said, “The zoo has been in existence for more than 106 years and our mission is to connect people with wildlife and wild places.”
“We love wildlife, and our staff also have a great passion for animals, our animal care team has been taking care of these animals for years. So it is very disheartening for us to be dealing with a situation like this. ”
The investigation into how the incident happened is ongoing.