USDA to inspect animal sanctuary

Thursday, June 8th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. (AP) -- Federal inspectors plan to visit a Wagoner County animal sanctuary where a bear cub bit two handlers in the past week.

A formal investigation of Safari's Exotic Animal Sanctuary could follow the inspection, said Dr. Bruce Mammeli, a supervisor animal care specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The agency licenses Safari's and similar facilities. Mammeli said there had been no previous reports of animal attacks at the sanctuary. He was not aware of an attack at Safari's last week.

"If there are any previous incidents, which it sounds like there might be, there may certainly be grounds for an investigation," he said.

Sophie, a 3-year-old 200-pound black bear cub, attacked Galen Timothy Bannon, 48, on Tuesday after he brought a bucket of food into the cage.

Bannon suffered a severe cut on his forearm and bite wounds on his arm and leg, authorities said. He underwent surgery and was expected to remain hospitalized through Friday.

Sophie bit another volunteer handler, Ryan Cardomone, 22, on both wrists last week.

Mammeli said inspectors would be looking at the training of Safari's personnel.