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Bear park man "wanted to save plastic bag"

The 25-year-old mentally handicapped man who was mauled when he entered the Bern bear park on Saturday has said he jumped in to retrieve a lost plastic bag.

Investigators have learnt that the man, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, had been under the guardianship of the commune of Köniz, canton Bern, for several years and was regularly allowed to walk around Bern unaccompanied on Saturdays.

On Wednesday authorities in Köniz said that since he wasn't considered a danger either to himself or to others they saw no reason to restrict his freedom of movement or to accompany him.

The man lived and worked in an institution for disabled people.

Finn, the four-year-old 250kg European brown bear who mauled the man, is recovering slowly after a police officer shot him in the chest.

On Wednesday Bernd Schildger, park director, said it was looking unlikely that Finn would need an operation. However, he is still on painkillers and antibiotics to prevent an infection from the bullet that shattered in his chest.

The new bear park, which cost SFr24 million ($23.6 million), was opened one month ago and houses Finn and companion Björk. It stretches from the traditional bear pit down to the River Aare, giving the animals much more space and a more natural environment to roam in. and agencies


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