Escaped grizzly bear mauls zookeeper in break for freedom until its shot dead

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    A zoo enclosure experienced a frightful event after one of its keepers was attacked by an escaped bear that was subsequently shot dead.

    The attempted breakout by the grizzly animal occurred on Wednesday (December 21) at a behind-the-scenes area at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida.

    According to zoo officials, the five-year-old North American black bear escaped an exhibit then attacked a zookeeper before the zoo's lethal weapons team were forced to shoot the animal dead.

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    Kelly Rouillard, director of marketing for the Zoo and Gardens, said that there was “an engagement” between the staff member and the bear, as she insisted that she believes the zoo does not have footage of the incident.

    Rouillard said that the black bear, named Johnny, escaped an exhibit at Jacksonville Zoo just after 5pm on Wednesday.

    A statement on the incident was posted on Facebook with staff saying that following the escape, an emergency call commenced while the facility's "lethal weapons team responded immediately".

    The statement continued: "Our highest priority is always the safety of human lives, therefore, the bear was shot and killed.

    "We will be conducting an ongoing investigation over the coming days and weeks. We do not take this lightly. It is profoundly painful when we have a loss of an animal, especially under circumstances such as this."

    The zookeeper that was attacked was transported to hospital for treatment by Jacksonville Fire and Rescue crews as the employee's injuries are thought not to be life-threatening.

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    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Captive Wildlife Office will be handling an investigation on the incident.

    A zoo enclosure in Sweden faced a similar situation as a group of seven chimpanzees attempted to escape with three having to be shot dead due to a lack of tranquilizer.

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