In a fight between an average, 28-year-old man and a 1,300-pound polar bear, the winner is clearly the enormous wild animal. But despite those terrible odds, someone suddenly leaped into the creature’s enclosure at the Copenhagen Zoo Wednesday and lived to tell the tale.
Police said the person was mentally ill or unstable and that he’d jumped in to take a picture of the polar bear, the Copenhagen Post reported.
The daring sight was witnessed by perhaps dozens of visitors — including schoolchildren in sixth and seventh grades — who had gathered at the park’s Arctic Ring Enclosure to see the 10-year-old predator in all its glory that day.
Shortly after noon, the intruder — who hasn’t been identified — climbed over the fence, fell 23 feet into the security pit, then climbed out and sauntered toward the polar bear, the Guardian explained.
Copenhagen Zoo manager Steffen Straede said he “walked up to [it] of his own free will.”
Employees looking on in horror immediately tried to save the trespasser by yelling to distract animal, but that didn’t work quickly enough.
— The Week UK (@TheWeekUK) December 3, 2015
“He went up to the [the creature] and it examined him by sniffing him and shoving him, and he sustained some superficial injuries,” said Copenhagen Zoo spokesman Jacob Munkholm, according to the Local. “It didn’t take more than a minute and a half from the alarm going off when he entered the facility until our guards… shot rubber bullets at the [it] and it moved away.”
A police officer named Erik Gøtje Larsen said the polar bear grabbed onto a limb and wouldn’t let go. Another report indicated that it had stepped on the interloper at some point.
Soon, employees with firearms arrived and shot rubber bullets at the animal in order to force it to release the intruder and saved his life. This worked and the creature backed way, returning to his cage. This allowed staff to rush in and rescue the mentally ill person.
In a small miracle, the man suffered only minor injuries, which were described as superficial. However, he was reportedly unable to walk when staff ran into the pen; they had to provide assistance on his way to safety.
The unidentified daredevil was taken to the hospital to be treated. So far, his exact motive is unclear beyond the scattering of reports that he entered the enclosure to snap a picture.
— Metro News Canada (@MetroNewsCanada) December 2, 2015
And now, thanks to his shenanigans, the facility is working on plans to change its enclosures. The folks who witnessed the interaction between man and beast were apparently shaken up. Both the 20 schoolchildren who witnessed the incident and the staff who helped rescue the interloper spent a little time with counselors afterward.
The male polar bear involved is one of two owned by the Copenhagen Zoo; they both arrived there in 2013, but on Wednesday, only the one had come out to treat visitors.
Of course, this isn’t the first time someone has had a close encounter with a deadly animal at this particular zoo. In 2012, Siberian tigers mauled a 21-year-old man to death inside an enclosure. Here in the United States, a drunk woman evaded security at an Omaha park on Halloween so that she could pet a tiger. She got her wish, but she was also bitten on the hand and took a trip to the hospital to care for severe injuries.
This facility is also well known for killing an inbred giraffe, dissecting it, then feeding the bits to lions. Staff did this in full view of visitors — including children.
[Photo by Evikka/Shutterstock]