Man's fight with bear in Warsaw zoo "could have ended much worse"

WARSAW, Poland -- A man who went missing after tangling with a brown bear at Warsaw's zoo, leaving traces of blood, was found Thursday in the hospital.

The 32-year-old man, being treated for an arm wound, refused to tell police why he entered the enclosure on Sunday and approached the bear. Maria Krakowiak, head of the animals of prey section at the zoo, said the man's stunt was "very dangerous" and "could have ended much worse."

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Blood was found Sunday outside the enclosure. A witness then posted photos on the Internet showing the man inside, bare-footed and in shorts. In one photo he has his right palm in the bear's mouth. From other photos it appears the bear, a female named Sabina, tried to bite his arm and that the man hit the bear. From the photos it is not clear which happened first.

However, the tabloid Fakt, citing witnesses, reported Wednesday that it was the man who first attacked Sabina, hitting the 200-kilo (440-pound) bear with his fists.

"He survived only thanks to a miracle," Fakt wrote.

Krakowiak said the zoo is hoping that city authorities will now install cameras to monitor the bear's enclosure. A popular fixture in Warsaw for decades, the enclosure is on a busy street, a few hundred yards from the zoo proper.

Police spokeswoman Paulina Onyszko told The Associated Press that police informed the man that he could face a fine of up to around $270 if found guilty of provoking the animal into aggression.

The case was being sent to court, Onyszko said; she did not know when the hearing could take place.