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German sanctuary to take bear that killed Italian jogger

May 15, 2024

A bear that killed a 26-year-old jogger in the Italian Alps last year will likely be moved to a sanctuary in Germany. Italian officials said the transfer should be completed by fall.

JJ4, the bear that killed the runner Andrea Papi
JJ4, the brown bear that killed a jogger in Italy, looks set to find a new home in GermanyImage: picture alliance/ROPI

A female brown bear, known as JJ4 or Gaia, that killed  a man jogging on a popular mountain path in the northern Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige in April 2023 will be relocated to a bear park in the eastern German state of Thuringia, Italian officials say.

The incident shocked Italy and led to heated debate in the country over the animal's future.

What has been decided?

The bear is to be taken to the Worbis Alternative Bear Park by fall, Italian officials said.

The councillor for tourism in the province of Trento, Roberto Failoni, told the daily Corriere del Trentino that the park enclosure first needed to be adapted, a process that would take a few months.

Jurka, the mother of JJ4, has been kept in a German bear park in the Black Forest region since 2010.

JJ4 herself has been saved from being killed after animal activists petitioned for her life to be spared. Trento President Maurizio Fugatti originally ordered the bear to be shot in the aftermath of the tragic incident.   

The region where the attack took place was repopulated with bears from 1999 as part of an EU-funded program. However, there have a number of bear attacks there in recent years, leading to discussion of how to reconcile the existence of a bear population with the safety of humans living there. 

 tj/rc (dpa, Reuters)