Man fined for animal cruelty and not wearing face mask after wrestling with bear at Polish zoo

Tim Wyatt
Sabrina the bear followed the drunken intruder into the water inside her enclosure, causing a prolonged scuffle

A man has been fined for animal cruelty after he jumped into a bear enclosure at a Polish zoo and wrestled with one of the animals.

The 23-year-old, who is thought to have been drunk at the time, was filmed by baffled visitors to Warsaw’s zoo, which had just reopened after Poland’s coronavirus lockdown was eased.

In the video, the unnamed man can be seen wandering around an artificial island while a large bear called Sabrina moves towards him.

When the intruder spots the elderly ex-circus bear he panics and throws himself into the water surrounding the exhibit.

At first he tries to swim away from Sabrina but the animal trots after him and then launches itself into the river as well.

As a crowd watches on, the pair grapple and wrestle in the water for more than a minute. At one point the man jumps on the bear’s back while tightly holding onto its ears.

Eventually he pushes the bemused creature away before desperately scrabbling out of the water and climbing to the top of the artificial island.

A spokesman for the zoo explained the man was lucky only Sabrina was in the enclosure at the time.

“She used to belong to a circus and is accustomed to the presence of people, but she absolutely did not expect a human attack,” said Ann Karczewska.

“Sabina, an old bear who was attacked by an adult man, physically came out of this event unscathed, but she is very stressed.”

Had one of the zoo’s younger and less docile bears been present the intruder could have suffered serious injuries, she added.

After firefighters arrived to rescue the man from the enclosure, he was arrested and charged with animal cruelty and disturbing the peace – for not wearing a face mask under Poland’s Covid-19 regulations.

He was sentenced to 20 hours per month of community service and also faces a fine of between £1,000 and £6,000. He has also been forced to promise to give up alcohol.

Ms Karczewska said Sabrina was not harmed during the scuffle but remained in the water “growling nervously” until the zookeepers arrived to placate her.

Warsaw Zoo said it supported the intruder’s prosecution, however, because the bears’s “psychological comfort was disturbed”.

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