TAIPEI, Taiwan - A zookeeper was attacked and injured by a black bear at Taipei Zoo yesterday when he entered the animal's den thinking it was empty, a zoo spokeswoman said.
The zookeeper, surnamed Li, sustained injuries to the head, broken ribs on his right side and lacerations on his hands and legs, the spokeswoman, Shih Chi-ching, said.
Li is being treated in a hospital and the zoo will extend all possible assistance to enable his recovery and rehabilitation.
Li was doing the daily cleaning of the bear's den at about 9:10 a.m. when he opened its door thinking the 26-year-old animal, nicknamed "Hsiu Hsiung," had already been moved to the exhibition area, according to Shih.
Hsiu Hsiung was probably "shocked" by the intrusion of the zookeeper and attacked him.
"This morning (I) made a mistake opening a door that must not be opened," Li was cited as explaining the accident.
There are a total of five dens, each housing a black bear in that zoo area. Cleaning of the dens begins after the bears have been released into the exhibition area.
Hsiu Hsiung, which weighs 165 kilograms, was tranquilized after the attack, Shih said.
She dismissed the speculation that the attack was triggered by the summer heat, saying the bear dens are all air-conditioned.
She added that Taipei Zoo currently employs 120 zookeepers.