Bear park operator, ex-employee arrested over deaths of 2 women in April
Police on Saturday arrested the operator of a bear park in Akita Prefecture and an ex-employee in connection with the deaths of two women handlers who were killed by bears that escaped from their enclosures on April 20.
According to police, the two men have been charged with professional negligence resulting in death, TBS reported.
At the time, Hachimantai bear park kept 38 animals, most of them brown bears. At around 9:30 a.m., six bears got over the fence by climbing onto piled-up snowdrifts. Of the three staff who were on duty, one man managed to escape, but two women handlers, aged 76 and 69, were mauled and died of their injuries.
Local hunters eventually shot dead the six bears that escaped, all within the gated park campus.
Police arrested the former employee, Kiyomi Tatehana, 69, who piled the snow in the enclosure, and the park operator, Sadanoshin Nagasaki, 68, for not ensuring that the snow was cleared away, TBS reported.