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Grizzly bear kills trainer

April 23rd, 2008, 09:13 AM
Bear gave off no reasons for concern before trainer's death

BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. - The grizzly bear that wrestled Will Ferrell's character in the recent film "Semi-Pro" seemed to obediently follow cues which made its killing of its trainer with a bite to the neck all the more stunning.

Three experienced handlers were working with the grizzly Tuesday at the Predators in Action wild animal training center when the bear attacked Stephan Miller, 39, said San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Beavers.

Stephan Miller is the cousin of training center owner Randy Miller, she said.

Pepper spray was used to subdue and contain the bear, and there were no other injuries, Beavers said. Paramedics arriving shortly after the initial emergency call around 3 p.m. were unable to revive Stephan Miller.

The state Department of Fish and Game and Occupational Safety and Health Administration were investigating the incident.

Fish and game spokesman Harry Morse told the San Bernardino Sun Tuesday his department would not decide whether the bear will be euthanized because the attack occurred outside its jurisdiction during a training session on facility grounds.

Morse speculated that the county animal care officials may decide the bear's fate. A call placed early Wednesday to the county's Animal Care and Control Program was not answered.

Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Phelps said the bear was a 5-year-old male named Rocky. The Predators in Action Web site said Rocky is 7 1/2 feet tall and weighs 700 pounds.

The site, which was off-line early Wednesday due to overtaxed bandwidth, identified Rocky as the animal that appeared with Ferrell's character in the scene from "Semi-Pro." Randy Miller doubled for Ferrell in the bear wrestling match, according to the site.

Calls seeking comment from Randy Miller were not immediately returned Tuesday evening.

The center, located in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles, has two grizzlies, and also trains lions, tigers, leopards, cougars and wolves for uses ranging from film and TV to advertising and education.

In a February interview, Randy Miller called Rocky "the best working bear in the business," the San Bernardino Sun reported on its Web site Wednesday. But, the paper quoted him as saying, "If one of these animals gets a hold of your throat, you're finished."

Randy Miller has 25 years of experience training animals and his facility has had a perfect safety record, according to the site.

Randy Miller won a World Stunt Academy Award for his work wrestling tigers in the 2000 blockbuster "Gladiator" and performed stunts with his animals in films like "The Postman," "The Island of Dr. Moreau," and "The Last Samurai." He also helped recreate animal attacks for National Geographic documentaries and the Discovery Channel.

It was not immediately known how long Rocky has been at the facility.

The attack prompted actress Virginia McKenna, founder of the international wildlife charity Born Free, to call for the entertainment industry to stop using wild animals.

"The movie industry urgently needs to use its technological and creative imagination to put an end to the use of live wild animals in commercials and movies," McKenna, who starred in the 1966 wildlife film "Born Free," said in a printed release. "Hollywood is a dream factory this time the dream has become a nightmare."

Denise Richards, who works with wild animals at Moonridge Zoo, a sanctuary for injured and homeless wildlife in nearby Big Bear Lake, said trained animals that turn on their handlers are often destroyed.

"You can train them and use as many safety precautions as you can, but you're still taking a chance if you're putting yourself in contact with them," Richards said. "It's still a wild animal. Even though it may appear that the bear attacked for no reason, there was a reason. I'm sure Randy understands why it happened. They're not cold-blooded killers."

Native grizzly bears are extinct in California.


While I feel terrible that the trainer died, I think it would be a terrible tragedy to kill this bear, like they killed the tiger in the zoo a couple of months ago that attacked a teenager after hours.

As stated in the article, I think Hollywood needs to use all of this technology it has and find ways of integrating CGI images of wild animals if a scene calls for it. Wild animals are often unpredictable, and to me it's unfair to end the life of an animal for attacking a human, when it was doing something that it wasn't meant to do!

If you are an animal trainer, you know you take your life into your hands whenever you get near that animal. Heck, I've got cats and now and then I get a nip from one when I might pet them where they don't want to be pet, or something. Can you imagine a wild animal that's over 700 some odd pounds?

It's not that I don't value human life, but I think it's time we as humans started taking responsibility for some of these incidents. Killing the animal that attacks a person isn't fair. The same thing happens here with alligators all the time. We have encroached into the Everglades with homes, and live on land that was theirs. Then when they get into someone's backyard or pool, they are taken away and many killed, so they won't go back. That to me makes no sense and it makes me sick.

I really hope they don't kill this bear.

April 23rd, 2008, 09:42 AM
I thoroughly agree with you ancient. We have a place up here where the guy rescues animals that morons get thinking wow, a tiger, lion, etc is a cool pet until said pet grows up. We had an incident here years ago where teenagers scaled 3 12' high fences to get onto the zoo's property then another fence to get close to the wolf area. the moron sticks his arm through the fence and one of the wolves attacked and removed the arm for the kid. This little jerkoff is trespassing and he sues the zoo. he wins 11million dollars and the wolf is destroyed. When are people going to realize these are wild animals and should be left in the wild.

April 23rd, 2008, 10:10 AM
That's unbelievable! See that's the kind of :censored:the frosts my hiney! Here this kid, goes and does something A. he's not supposed to be doing and B. something dangerous and the zoo is held accountable? And the worst part the wolf is killed. :wall:

We are a stupid, irresponsible species and some of deserve what they get for being morons.:frustrated:

April 23rd, 2008, 12:59 PM
I am 100% against animal captivity. For the reason of conserving and helping a species repopulate is fine - but not for them to do stupid tricks for the amusement of people! I have always been of the opinion that if a wild animal attacks someone in a setting where that animal is being forced to do everything that goes against it's natural instincts, that animal is NOT responsible. Anyone who thinks they can train a wild animal and that the animal is under their control is delusional and a complete :censored: (choose your own expletive!)

April 23rd, 2008, 01:19 PM
but I think it's time we as humans started taking responsibility for some of these incidents. Killing the animal that attacks a person isn't fair.

ramen sistah, now if everyone would take responsibility for their own actions.... talk about the perfect world!!