On this day, May 19, in 1987, an 11-year-old boy was killed by two polar bears after he and his friends sneaked into their enclosure at a Brooklyn zoo.
Police found the bears, standing 8 feet tall and weighing 900 and 1,400 pounds, tugging at the body of the dead boy, Juan Perez. It took 20 shotgun blasts and six bullets from a .38-caliber revolver to kill the bears.
The bears were awakened after Juan and two pals climbed an iron fence after hours and shed their clothes for a swim in the bears' moat at the Prospect Park Zoo.
"Go get help. They're biting me hard," were Juan's last words. The other boys, still naked, ran for help, then hid.
The police shooting drew hundreds of protests, including death threats, from animal lovers.
- Scott McCabe