Zookeeper killed by brown bear in enclosure that was supposed to be empty

A 19-year-old zookeeper at a wildlife park in Sweden was in a bear enclosure with four guests when he was mauled to death by a brown bear that wasn't supposed to be there.

The tragedy occurred Friday morning at Orsa Rovdjurspark, billed as the largest predator park in Europe.

A special activity for guests at Orsa Rovdjurspark is accompanying a zookeeper into a bear enclosure to watch him go about his work of cleaning the enclosure, according to The Local of Sweden.

Park officials quickly went to the enclosure after the zookeeper failed to answer the radio. A park official shot and killed the brown bear.

The victim received medical treatment on the scene before being transported to a hospital where he died from bite wounds.

Sky News reported that the four visitors in the enclosure with the zookeeper were unharmed.

The enclosure was supposed to be empty, but police believe the brown bear had dug its way in from under a fence. Details were sketchy.

"First and foremost I want to say that this is a difficult day," Sven Brunberg, head of the park, said at a news conference. "I'm thinking about my colleague and his family a lot. It started out as a normal day, a family had booked the activity and normal routines were followed. I’ll leave it to the police to work out what went wrong."

According to the BBC, officers are investigating whether proper safety procedures were followed while the park insisted none of the visitors were at risk.

More from Sky News:

In 2012, a female employee at a wildlife park south of Stockholm was killed by a pack of wolves she had helped to raise.

Kolmarden Wildlife Park was later fined four million kronor [$633K USD] for negligence, and a former manager at the park was found guilty of manslaughter by breaching Swedish workplace safety laws.

The wildlife park was immediately closed for the day. It was expected to reopen Saturday.

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