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Kelly Ann Walz killed by her pet black bear

Blackbear A woman was killed by a captive 350-pound black bear as she cleaned its cage Sunday night, officials said Monday as they revealed her husband, an exotic pet dealer, was operating with an expired license.

Kelly Ann Walz, 37, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Tim Conway, an information and education supervisor with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Michael Walz's license to keep and sell exotic animals expired in June of 2008, Conway said. He called the lapse a technicality.

Walz, who has been licensed since 1994, reported to authorities in 2007 that he kept a lion, cougar, jaguar, tiger, black bear, leopard and two servals on the property in Ross Township, a rural area in the Pocono Mountains, about 20 miles northeast of Allentown.

Kelly Ann Walz went into the bear's 15-by-15-foot steel and concrete cage about 5 p.m. Sunday, throwing a shovelful of dog food to one side to distract the bear while she cleaned the other side, Conway said. At some point the bear turned on her and attacked.

Her children and the neighbor's children saw the attack and summoned help, and the neighbor shot and killed the bear while it was atop Walz, Conway said.

"Why this woman chose to go in the same area that the bear was in is beyond me. It's a fatal mistake," he said. "These things are not tame animals, they're wild animals."

Owners of wild animals typically have a two-section cage, allowing them to isolate the animal behind a locked gate while they clean the other part, Conway said.

Michael Walz is listed in state corporation records as the president of World of Reptiles Inc. The business was created in 1988.

A man who answered the phone at a listing for Michael Walz said the family did not want to comment.

-- Associated Press

In the photo above, a black bear, not the one who killed Kelly Walz, estimated to weigh 200 lbs crosses a city street Thursday, July 30, 2009 in Eau Claire, Wis. (AP Photo/Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Steve Kinderman)

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These people are crazy. Just like the ones who have monkeys for pets. They aren't meant to be confined and treated like housecats. I'm sorry she died, but it certainly sounds like she wasn't very cautious either.

Is dog food an appropriate food source for a bear?

I agree that wild animals should not be kept in cages or as pets and I'm sorry my friend learned this lesson with her life. BUT- please keep in mind that Kelly was someones daughter, a mom to 2 children, a wife and a friend of many. A horrible, horrible tragedy occurred, a mistake made and her family and friends will never be the same for losing her. She was an animal lover and a wonderful equestrian, and just think about the fact that this was a real person who people are crying over and maybe you can reserve your harsh judgement of her.

Fifteen by fifteen feet? Dog food? I feel sorry for the children in this situation, and the animals in these people's "care". Shame on Mr. Walz and, yes, his late wife. This is not how an animal lover treats a bear.

Her family and friends are in my prayers. Very well said Jsteadman. Thats the thing that I can't stand about the internet, it allows cowards to use their annonimity to spread their sarcastic and hateful views.

Regarding RJR's comments below: The real cowards are those who have no principles and are scared to speak their mind or the press such as the LA times who refuse to post my comments. It's OK to comment as long as it's pointless, bland and innocuous. Steadman should be ashamed of her defence of this unspeakable barbarity. Anyone who is capable of keeping a beautiful wild animal in such horrific captivity is an unthinking barbarian as is anyone who thinks it is OK to defend such a practice.

They kept this bear in a 15' x 15' cage? No wonder he attacked her. Are these people crazy or what?! And why does the State of Pennsylvania allow the inappropriate keeping of wild creatures in such inhumane living conditions? They must be crazy too! This bear should either be released in the wild or, if that isn't possible, be sent to an accredited sanctuary.


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