LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A grizzly bear featured in the recent Will Ferrell film “Semi-Pro” and touted as one of the “best trained” in show business has killed its handler, but officials said on Wednesday they were puzzled by what provoked the attack.
The 700-pound bear, which stands 7 1/2 feet tall, bit Stephan Miller, 39, in the neck on Tuesday at a facility where wild animals are trained for film and TV productions near the mountain resort of Big Bear Lake, east of Los Angeles.
Two other trainers at the facility, called Randy Miller’s Predators in Action, subdued the bruin with pepper spray and were unhurt in the incident, said San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Arden Wiltshire.
The enclosed compound and the bear, a five-year-old male named Rocky, were examined afterward by wardens of the California state Fish and Game Department, which found no permit violations or danger to public safety, agency spokesman Harry Morse said.
Authorities said that assuming no wrongdoing turns up in the investigation, it would be left up to the owners of the bear to decide whether to destroy it or keep it alive.
Wiltshire said the attack occurred during a training session being videotaped while three experienced handlers, including Miller, the owner’s cousin, were present. Miller was pronounced dead on the scene by paramedics.
Wiltshire said she was unsure if the attack was caught on tape but said investigators would review the footage.
The bear is not known to have been involved in any previous mishaps, she said. Morse said the facility, first permitted in 1992, otherwise has a clean record.
According to the company’s Web site, Rocky appeared in the film “Semi-Pro” in a bear-wrestling scene with Randy Miller acting as a stunt double for Ferrell, the Los Angeles Times reported before the site was shut down on Wednesday.
The Web site boasts that Predators in Action has “the best trained grizzly bears in the business today,” the Times said.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Todd Eastham
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.