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Bear that mauled handler put down

A bear that mauled to death his handler has been put down at the request of the victim's family.

The bear attacked Brent Kandra, 24, when he opened its cage on Thursday for a routine feeding at the home of a man who kept a menagerie of wolves, tigers and bears on the property south-west of Cleveland.

The owner, Sam Mazzola, who has drawn criticism from animal rights activists for letting people wrestle with one of his bears, had said Kandra's family would decide the bear's fate.

Kandra's father, John, said he and his ex-wife, Deirdre Herbert, needed the bear to die. He also said his son felt short changed by Mazzola.

"It just seemed like Sam kind of took advantage of my son," Kandra's father said. "I told him a couple times, 'I really wish you wouldn't work for him.'"

After the bear was put to death, John Kandra paid tribute to his son who was 'a little blond boy who fished his way through childhood in the rivers of north eastern Ohio, baiting bullfrogs with a blade of grass and catching carp big enough to shame the tallest teller of fish tales'.

"I can't think of when he wasn't involved with animals," Kandra said.

Brent Kandra's penchant for critters led him to Mazzola's world of exotic animals, where neighbours say roars and howls resound. Kandra spent the end of his teenage years and his 20s looking after dogs and feeding bears.

Despite the problems he said he had with getting paid, Kandra thought it was better than selling mobile phones at the mall, a job he started less than two months ago.

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