NAGANO (TR) – A pet bear being kept at a rice facility here who was a neighborhood attraction left one its male keeper dead and another injured, police said on Saturday.
Police found Haruo Mihara, 56, collapsed with arm injuries in front of the cage of a bear being kept at agricultural facility Furihata Rice Center in Azumino City at around 8 a.m., NHK reports (October 15).
Mihara was rushed to a hospital but died of his injuries about 1.5 hours later, police said, adding his wounds indicated he was mauled by the bear.
Responding officers found the lone bear outside its cage, and a 39-year-old male visitor whose arm was injured trying to usher it back in side.
Mihara was raising the bear and another bear at the facility since eight years ago under license from Nagano Prefecture, prefectural officials said.
The bear is normally kept behind two doors, which are usually locked, but both were found to be open, police said.
A 75-year-old witness told NHK she was “shocked because people would often take their kids there and say ‘look, it’s a bear.’”
Another witness, a 69-year-old man, said he thought the bear was “dangerous because there were houses and such nearby, but I never imagined anything like this would ever happen.”