Zoo speaks out after toddler bitten by black bear while in ‘unauthorized area’

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LANGLEY, B.C. — A manager with the Greater Vancouver Zoo says a two-year-old girl who was bitten by a bear somehow got past a locked gate to access an enclosure with three young black bears.

Bears at the Greater Vancouver Zoo, shown in a photo shared by the facility online in Sept. 2018. Greater Vancouver Zoo/Facebook

Menita Prasad, the zoo’s animal care manager, says there is a combination of chain-link and wooden fencing around the enclosure and steel gates keeping the bears in and the public out.

Prasad says it’s unclear how the girl accessed the enclosure late Monday, but the only feasible explanation is that she would have had to squeeze through or climbed over the gate to an area not authorized for the public.

She says the zoo has reached out to the girl’s family and has been told she’s in stable condition in hospital but still has a recovery ahead of her.

The BC Conservation Officer Service says the girl’s arm was bitten by a black bear and she was flown by air ambulance to hospital for treatment.

The girl’s family has declined comment.

The conservation service and RCMP are investigating, and the service says no animals will be euthanized as a result of what happened.

Prasad says the zoo is also conducting its own investigation.

“We want the entire zoo to be safe. We want this to be a happy place for our guests, safe for our staff and the public as well.”

Prasad says the bears are two-year-old siblings and they remain on display at the zoo, although there’s another barrier in front of the enclosure.

“We still consider them cubs here, and just like any two-year-old (they) are curious.”

She said she doesn’t know the circumstances that led to the child’s injury.