“It was horribly frightening, he was only about one and a half meters from one of the bears,” Johanna Lindahl, one of the witnesses, told the Kvällsposten newspaper. “He pretended to pounce on the bears and frightened them.”
According to witnesses, the young man was cheered on by a group of friends, one of whom was a young woman.
Zoo staff had raced to the enclosure as soon as a witness called the alarm, fearing the worst, but by the time they arrived the young man had already leapt to safety after four minutes inside.
“If he had fallen down, he would have fallen down straight into the enclosure and that would have been very dangerous,” Anna Blinkowski, the head of Skånes Djurpark in southern Sweden, told The Local.
“It was a very serious situation for us. The final option for us is always to shoot the bear.”
To get into the enclosure, the man had to climb a fence onto a safety platform, which is raised just out of reach of the animals. The enclosure holds two bears, Ester, who was born in 2001, and Glok, born in 2003.
The young man gave his name to the zoo staff, who reported him to the police.
Skånes Djurpark is the world's biggest zoo showcasing animals found in the Nordic region, with about 900 animals representing almost 100 species, including bears, wolves, elk, wolverines, seals, and lynx.
In early 2010, a pack of wolves escaped from their enclosure and were shot to death, angering animal rights activists.