Sunday, April 12, 2009

Woman jumps into polar bear pool at Berlin Zoo

The terrifying moment when a woman tried to make friends with one of the world's most fearsome predators. Apparently oblivious to the danger she leapt a fence and scaled a wall to jump into an enclosure containing four polar bears.

The 32-year-old, who has not been named, then swam more than 10 metres across the bears' pool at Berlin Zoo. It is thought she may have been trying to reach Knut, the world's most famous polar bear, who hit headlines around the world when he was hand-reared after being abandoned by his mother.

Now two years old he lives in the enclosure with three friends - and one of them zeroed in on the woman as she splashed over to them. An onlooker said: "One minute we were all watching the bears because it was feeding time and the next we realised this woman was swimming over to them.

"The keepers were running around trying to distract the bears but one of them had noticed her and it was too late. She must have thought it was Knut and that he would be friendly - instead he pounced on her in the water and seemed to grab her neck in his jaws."

Six keepers managed to push the bear away and get the woman to hospital, where she is recovering from a series of bites on her arms, back and legs before being questioned by police. Zoo spokesman Heiner Kloes said the bear was simply following its instincts.

A police spokesman added: "The woman has proved herself to be careless by jumping into the enclosure. Logic tells us that polar bears will do this type of thing in this situation."

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