Greater Vancouver Zoo investigating after 2-year-old attacked by bear
A two-year-old girl was airlifted to hospital Monday after being attacked by a bear at the Greater Vancouver Zoo.
The toddler's father, Richard Hanson, told CTV News he received a frantic phone call from his wife saying their daughter Sophia had been bitten by a bear.
"They were all watching the bears and the next thing you know, you hear the kids screaming and they ran over and had to, know you, get it to stop biting her," said Hanson, who was in Victoria at the time of the incident.
The concerned father was told their daughter was attacked by a black bear through a fence, and that she suffered a broken arm and lost a fingertip in the incident.
"I talked to the hospital and they said she's in stable condition. They said she has extensive injuries to her arm," Hanson said.
The little girl, who is currently being cared for at BC Children's Hospital, is going to need multiple surgeries, according to the family.
Hanson said his wife was also left traumatized by what happened. He plans to seek legal counsel.
The Greater Vancouver Zoo’s animal care manager, Menita Prasad, said the little girl was in an area not authorized for the public, though she could not say precisely where at the bear enclosure the incident took place.
“The zoo team is deeply shocked and saddened by the events that have happened. We do have safety protocols and procedures in place to prevent such incidents from happening,” Prasad said.
Prasad said the zoo does have security cameras on its grounds, but could not say if there was any footage of what happened. She said there are three black bears in the exhibit, which is surrounded by a high chain-link fence with a smaller fence in front of it. There is also a gate barring access to the side of the exhibit, which has been temporarily closed to the public for now.
“We are completing an investigation and as well as working closely with the conservation officer service and local authorities to ensure that we are as safe as we possibly can, and if there are areas for improvement, then yes, we will make the necessary changes,” Prasad said.
Jennifer Bauer was visiting the zoo for the first time with her four year-old, and said she was sad to hear that had happened.
“Hopefully it will never happen again, and they’ll double-check and make sure everything is as safe as possible from here on out,” Bauer said.
“I mean, there’s wild animals, so you have to be careful.”
The zoo said the black bears arrived in 2017 as orphans, and have lived in the enclosure ever since. The conservation officer service is investigating, and said no bears will be destroyed.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Sheila Scott and Angela Jung