A trip to the Greater Vancouver Zoo on Monday made a sharp turn from enjoyable to traumatic for a mother and daughter duo. Two-year-old Sophia and her mother were spending a sunny summer day together when a black bear attack at the Vancouver Zoo sent the toddler to the hospital in a helicopter.
In an email to Narcity, BC Emergency Health Services confirmed the call was received from the Greater Vancouver Zoo at 6:53 p.m. “Paramedics were dispatched, including two critical care teams and an air ambulance,” Sarah Morris of BCEHS told us. “One patient was transported by air ambulance to the hospital in serious condition,” Morris continued.
Sophia’s father, Richard Hanson, told CTV News that he was in Victoria, B.C. when he received a frantic phone call from his wife, who told him that their daughter may have been bitten by a bear.
"They were all watching the bears and the next thing you know, you hear the kids screaming and they ran over and had to, know you, get it to stop biting her," Hanson explained to CTV News.
This morning, Sophia’s father reported to CTV News that his two-year-old daughter had been bitten by a black bear through the fence of the enclosure. As a result, Sophia has a broken arm and has lost one of her fingertips. The child’s arm will require multiple surgeries. She is now receiving care at B.C. Children’s hospital.
An official statement was sent to Narcity on behalf of the Greater Vancouver Zoo from Menita Prasad, the Animal Care Manager. The statement outlined the zoo's shock and sadness following yesterday's accident. Menita said that the zoo is working to gather all information possible regarding the incident.
Menita went on the state that "the incident occurred at our black bear enclosure and that the child was bitten by one of the bears while the child was in an area that is not authorized for public access. This is an active investigation on our end to confirm all details, and ensure the safety of all our guests, staff and animals." The statement also confirmed that the Greater Vancouver Zoo "adheres to the safety standards put forth by Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA)."
With countless bear threats reported this summer, from a woman being chased in B.C. to several trail closures in Alberta, you’d think viewing bears at the zoo would be your safest bet. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
With Sophia undergoing procedures at the B.C. Children’s Hospital and her mother left completely traumatized, according to Richard Hanson, we urge everyone to stay aware and keep your distance when it comes to wild animals, no matter the circumstance.