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Animal Keeper Gets $3.5 Million in Polar Bear Attack

December 1, 1994 GMT

CINCINNATI (AP) _ A jury awarded nearly $3.5 million to a former Cincinnati Zoo animal keeper whose forearm was chewed off and swallowed by a polar bear.

Laurie Stober, 30, was attacked in 1990 by Icee, an 800-pound bear that grabbed her fingers with his teeth and chewed his way up to her elbow.

The zoo said that it had followed proper procedures and that Stober had stuck her fingers inside the cage in violation of zoo policy.

Stober, however, said the bear poked through the bars of the cage and bit her fingertips as she offered it a grape. And she said the zoo had made the animal hostile by confining it in a small, poorly lighted and ventilated cage.

″It’s never been about money to me. It’s been about working conditions,″ Stober said after the verdict Wednesday. ″I’m happy for me and the people who are still working at the zoo.″

The zoo said it will appeal.