Zoo Keeper Who Lost Her Leg to a Bear Begs That the Animal Be Pardoned

Wild animals usually get put down after attacking humans, but a Russian zoo keeper who lost one of her legs to a caged bear has been pleading with authorities to spare the animal, claiming that it wasn’t to blame for the tragic accident.

On September 25, experienced zoo keeper and animal activist Vera Blishch was instructing a new colleague at the Municipal Zoo in Ussuriysk when a bout of vertigo made her lean towards a bear cage for just a split second. Unfortunately, that was just enough time for Manyunya, a 20-year-old female bear, to reach through the bars and grab the zookeeper’s leg. She suffered severe injuries, including multiple fractures, and eventually needed to have her leg amputated below the knee at a Ussuriysk hospital. Knowing that animals that attack people are put down to eliminate the risk of them attacking other humans, Blishch’s first concern upon waking from her surgery anesthesia was for Manyunya’s well-being, insisting that the bear was not to blame.

Photo:  VL.ru

“I suddenly felt dizzy, I don’t remember how I ended up so close to the cage,” Vera said after waking up from the amputation surgery. “I’ve been working with predators for over 25 years, lots of things have happened over this time – but I can say with confidence that the animals was not to blame. Manyunya is not aggressive.”

“She knelled down to show how to feed a bear, then quickly stood up and felt dizzy. To gain balance Vera leaned towards a cage for split second. This was enough for a bear to pull its paw through the cage’s bars and to strike,” a member of the zoo staff, ho witnessed the tragic incident, said.

Photo:  VL.ru

Vera Blishch has spent many years of her life working with brown bears, and claims that Manyunya only succumbed to her natural instinct. In a previous interview, Blishch mentioned how dangerous training bears was, and one really had to have a God-given gift to feel the bear.

“Bears are trained almost nowhere except for Russia,” the zookeeper said. “Even by  just kissing the bear now I might lose my head within a split second. To work with a bear, you must have a special feeling. We say it’s a feeling sent by God. You must feel a bear.”


The Russian Investigative Committee launched an investigation into the incident, and a decision on Manyunya’s fate remains to be made.

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