Animal keeper dies after being attacked by Himalayan black bear at Visakhapatnam zoo

Officials suspect that he left all the doors open in the animal night house and went inside to clean; ex gratia of ₹10 lakh to be paid to the bereaved family as immediate relief

Updated - November 27, 2023 10:08 pm IST

Published - November 27, 2023 08:56 pm IST - Visakhapatnam

Himalayan black bear in Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in  Visakhapatnam.

Himalayan black bear in Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in Visakhapatnam. | Photo Credit: BY ARRANGEMENT

An animal keeper died after being attacked by a Himalayan black bear in the animal’s enclosure of Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP) here on Monday.

The deceased was identified as B. Nagesh Babu (23) while the bear Jihwan, is aged between 10-15 years, according to the zoo curator Nandani Salaria. Nagesh Babu, who had been associated with the zoo for the last two years, was working as an animal keeper. The Department of Forests announced ₹10 lakh as ex gratia to the bereaved family as immediate relief apart from other claims like EPF and ESI. The victim was a native of Timiteru Burjavalasa village of Dattirajeru mandal in the neighbouring Vizianagaram district

According to the zoo authorities, Nagesh Babu was allotted duty of `animal keeper’ for the sloth bear and Himalayan black bear enclosures on Monday.

At around 10.30 am, the veterinary assistant surgeon on his routine rounds asked for the sloth bear and black bear keeper Nagesh Babu from the security guard at the bear section. When security guard called for Nagesh at the bear section, there was no reply from him even after repeated calls. The security then checked the night house of the animal where the bear was standing near the outer gate of the house. Suspecting the animal was out of its house and could have killed the keeper, the security guard immediately left the place and informed the higher authorities.

The team led by the Curator rushed to the spot and tranquillised the animal. Luring the black bear with honey, the team successfully sent it inside. The bear was later taken to the Day Kraal.

The Night House was inspected and Nagesh Babu was found lying on one side of the house and enclosure. It is inferred that the keeper Nagesh left all the doors open in the animal night house and went inside to clean, due to which the animal came from the Day Kraal into it and attacked the keeper.

The animal was very far from the visitor area and the zoo team was able to cordon off the area and managed to send the animal inside the night house.

“It was an unfortunate incident for the zoo and it had never been happened so far. Due to negligence on the part of the keeper, it happened. Keepers must be careful when it comes to dealing with wild animals as per the protocols. The Himalayan black bear is generally friendly with its keeper and even responsive to the visitors too,” Ms. Salaria said.

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