August 21, 2010 in Nation/World

Caretaker attacked, killed while feeding captive bear

Thomas J. Sheeran Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Sam Mazzola talks Friday about Brent Kandra, who was killed by Mazzola’s bear.
(Full-size photo)

COLUMBIA STATION, Ohio – A bear attacked and killed its caretaker at the home of a man who kept a menagerie of dangerous, exotic beasts and ran afoul of animal regulators a few years ago by staging wrestling matches between bears and humans.

The bear in the attack southwest of Cleveland was not one that owner Sam Mazzola had used for wrestling, officials said. His license to show animals had been revoked, but he still kept dozens of bears, wolves, tigers, lions and perhaps coyotes. The state said Mazzola had no violations for owning animals.

The bear was out of its cage for its feeding Thursday evening by 24-year-old Brent Kandra, “which was normal for this particular bear because the caretaker and the owner had been around it so much,” Lorain County Sheriff’s Capt. James Drozdowski said. Mazzola used a fire extinguisher to force the bear back into its cage.

“We don’t know whether something startled the bear or what prompted the bear to get aggressive with the caretaker,” Drozdowski said.

Kandra died Friday at MetroHealth Medical Center, the coroner’s office in Cleveland said. The coroner said the tentative cause of death was “sharp and blunt injuries to the body consistent with a bear attack.”

Mazzola said he was the only witness to Thursday night’s attack. He declined to describe the attack, but said the bear was the victim’s favorite.

Whether the bear will be euthanized will be up to the victim’s family, Mazzola said. “I want them to know that Brent loved the bear very much and I’m sure the bear loved him very much,” he said.

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