A policeman shot a polar bear that was dragging...

MADISON, Wis. -- A policeman shot a polar bear that was dragging away a man who climbed into the bear's home at the Henry Vilas Park Zoo.

The 28-year-old Madison man, who has a history of mental illness, apparently jumped a 15-foot moat Sunday and climbed a 15-foot rock wall to enter the area, police said.


The man was not identified.

Zoo director David Hall said police were notified shortly after the zoo opened about 9 a.m. Sunday by a jogger who heard shouts from the bear's area.

Officer Michael Puls found the man under the 7-foot-4 inch polar bear named Chief, said Police Lt. Ellen Werner.

Puls said he tried to distract the bear by shouting. He then fired one shot into the air from his 12-gauge shotgun but the bear still did not move, Hall said.

When Chief began to drag the man away from Puls, the officer shot the bear once in the shoulder, Hall said.

Chief dropped the man and walked around the swimming area twice before running into the moat and collapsing.

Hall said zoo officials then asked authorities to kill the bear because they believed he would eventually die from the wounds.


The man, who had a gash on his head, was taken into custody as he walked from the bear's area.

The man was being examined at the psychiatric ward at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Werner said.

The 15-year-old bear was the only one at the Madison zoo. Chief, who was considered to be one of the largest polar bears in captivity, had been with the zoo about 13 years, Hall said. He said the zoo would try to replace the bear.

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