Entries in Bears (2)


Escaped Bears in Japan Maul Two Women to Death

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- Half-a-dozen bears escaped from a remote park in northwest Japan on Friday, mauling two women to death before they were hunted down and killed.

A local hunting group was called in to assist police and firefighters.  All six animals were found and killed within five hours after the incident began.

Akita Prefectural Police spokesman Haruki Itou told ABC News there was no chance to simply tranquilize the bears.

“We could not get anywhere near the animals, but could not afford to let them escape,” Itou said.

Police received an emergency call from an employee at the Hachimantai Bear Farm in Kazuno City around 10 a.m., saying a fellow worker, one of three on site, had been attacked.  They found the 76-year-old woman’s body near the cages, mauled to death, half an hour later.

The discovery triggered an area-wide search for the missing animals.  Nearby roads were shut down while police went door to door, calling on residents and businesses in surrounding areas to stay indoors.  Schools located 10 miles from the park were placed on lockdown, according to a city official.

The bears did not get very far.  Hunters found them wandering around their cages, Itou said.

Police found the body of a 69-year-old woman nearby, nearly six hours after the incident began.

This is the first time bears have escaped from the Hachimantai Farm, home to nearly 40 bears in a remote part of Akita Prefecture.

Itou said he believed all the animals had been accounted for.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Giant Pandas Touch Down in Japan, Launch Panda-Monium

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images (file)(TOKYO) -- Japan pulled out all the stops Monday to welcome a pair of giant pandas from China. To say Japan is excited about its newest residents would be an understatement: panda flags lined the streets near Tokyo's Ueno Zoo -- the new home to the cuddly bears -- and the creatures even arrived in a plane painted to look like a panda. Restaurants throughout Japan's capital served up panda-themed dishes, while cafes frothed their lattes with panda designs.

Five-year-old male Bili and female Xiannu will fill a huge void left by Ling Ling, Ueno Zoo's last panda. The 22-year-old died of heart failure in 2008 -- after living the equivalent of 70 human years.

The new Tokyo residents are on lease from China for $950,000 a year, a giant price tag for the Tokyo municipal government. But the potential payoff could be huge: the bears are expected to rake in $240 million a year, giving the local economy a boost.

It's welcome news for a zoo that's seen the number of visitors decline from 3.5 million to 3 million a year since Ling Ling's death.

Japanese leaders also see a big payoff in the latest panda diplomacy. The Chinese imports come at a time when Sino-Japanese tensions are high, amid an ongoing territorial spat over disputed islands in southern Japan. Prime Minister Naoto Kan's cabinet hopes the bears will help smooth relations with China.

The public will get their first glimpse of the bears when the zoo unveils them late next month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio