Toronto Zoo investigating after teens take selfie with polar bear
TORONTO – Taking a photo with a wild animal get can get anyone’s heart racing but that didn’t deter a couple of high school students from jumping over a marked barrier at the Toronto Zoo to take a selfie with a polar bear.
“My friend and I wanted to take a picture, so there was little stand. We climbed over it and we wanted to take a video,” said 16-year-old Michael Power/St. Joseph High school student Samuel Gonzalez.
The video of the incident, which took place in March during a school trip, has since sparked an investigation by zoo officials and the school board.
In the video, the six-month-old polar bear cub named Humphrey is seen licking the students’ fingers from behind a steel fence.
However, the zoo says there’s always a safety risk for both spectators and animals when they are so close together.
“It was quite lucky for them that Humphrey was licking those fingers because he could have quite easily bitten down on those fingers,” said Toronto Zoo spokesperson Jennifer Tracey.
“Danger, Do Not Cross Barrier” signs are clearly posted around all the animal enclosures.
“I want to encourage our visitors not to climb any barriers or fences, there are reasons there are signs up,” said Tracey.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Catholic District School Board says the are cooperating with zoo officials regarding the incident.
“Despite the fact that the polar bear was still behind a fence and the students were not in any danger we are taking this matter very seriously,” said TCDSB Spokesperson John Yan in a statement.
Gonzalez has since apologized for violating zoo rules and there are no plans to ban student visits.
“I was taking full responsibility. I wanted to say sorry because I generally did not expect it was a big deal,” said Gonzalez.
WATCH: What action (if any) should be taken against the teens who took a “selfie” photo with a polar bear at the Toronto Zoo?
With files from Angie Seth