Video captures shocking moment when worker comes face-to-face with black bear at Tennessee park

Update: The bear was euthanized, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) said Monday.

A concessions stand at an amusement park in Tennessee, coincidentally named "Bear Can," had an unlikely customer over the weekend.

Around 9:30 p.m. Saturday, a black bear entered "Bear Can" at Anakeesta, a mountaintop adventure park in Gatlinburg, through the employee entrance, which is off limits to visitors, the park said in a news release.

The bear started exiting the stand just as a park worker was entering it, giving the worker and the animal quite a surprise as they turned the corner.

"At that point, the bear and employee made brief physical contact," the park said, adding that the employee was not seriously injured in the encounter and opted not to receive medical attention. Anakeesta's park operations were also not impacted by the incident, the park said.

Video footage, recorded by a person present inside the concession stand, shows the bear scouring for food while holding some in his paw.

"Oh, look he's drooling," a person can be heard saying in the video. "He's all about this gumbo."

After looking around and dropping some items, the bear exited the stand and ran into an employee who was entering. The animal jumped at the female employee, pawing her, before scampering away while the employee ran into the stand, shutting the door behind her.

'Bears are a big part of the magic,' says park spokesperson

Surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on three sides, Anakeesta is no stranger to bears given their high population in the area. However, encounters such as these are rare, and the park works closely with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and other local agencies to ensure such interactions are limited.

“Bears are a big part of the magic in the Great Smoky Mountains,” a spokesperson for the park Austin Martin said in a statement. “The Anakeesta team works diligently to create a safe space to co-exist with the native wildlife.”

The park, in its news release, added that Anakeesta is "dedicated to giving people a unique outdoor adventure in the Smokies" and encourages "guests to enjoy the views of the bears, at a safe distance."

Anakeesta is located about 42 miles east of Knoxville and is approximately 220 miles from Nashville.

Bear may be euthanized

A spokesperson with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, meanwhile, told USA TODAY that the bear may have to be euthanized based on the agency's "Bear Nuisance Matrix," which serves as a guide for dealing with human/bear conflict. The spokesperson added that TWRA does not indiscriminately euthanize bears, but because the bear entered a concession stand with humans present and injured an employee, the best course of action would be to euthanize it to avoid further conflicts.

TWRA has already laid out a trap for the bear, the spokesperson said. While the agency sometimes relies on DNA evidence to ensure it has the right animal, in this case no DNA evidence is available.

The spokesperson also urged the public to exercise responsibility in areas with high concentration of wildlife by making sure leftover food is properly disposed, and all garbage is secured so that animals, like the bear, do not have access to unnatural food sources and are not attracted to areas frequented by humans.

Saman Shafiq is a trending news reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at sshafiq@gannett.com and follow her on X @saman_shafiq7.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Video: Black bear paws employee at Anakeesta Adventure Park in TN