A 21-year-old homeless man who climbed into the San Francisco’s Zoo’s grizzly bear enclosure on Saturday could face up to a year in county jail after being charged today in San Francisco Superior Court.Kenneth Herron, who is being held in a county jail psychiatric ward for evaluation, was arraigned in absentia in court this morning.His attorney pleaded not guilty on his behalf to two misdemeanor charges, one alleging that Herron violated the city’s park code for unlawfully disturbing a wild and dangerous animal — “to wit, bears,” according to prosecutors’ charging document. Herron is also facing a misdemeanor count of trespassing. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in county jail.District attorney’s office spokesman Brian Buckelew said this morning it is still unclear how Herron got inside the bear exhibit.Herron was spotted inside the enclosure, which has three 15-foot walls and a fourth with a 4-foot-high barrier and a 13- to 14-foot moat, at about 5 p.m. Saturday.One of the two bears in the exhibit came up to Herron and sniffed his foot, but zoo staff fired a warning shot that kept the bears from attacking him, zoo officials said.The bears were taken safely into their night quarters and secured.Buckelew said Herron has been placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold. Bail was set today at $10,000.He said Herron had been “acting strangely” inside the exhibit.The zoo employee who found him inside reportedly asked him if he was okay, and Herron never responded, Buckelew said.Herron has a “violent” criminal history, according to Buckelew, including a conviction for attempting to remove a police officer’s firearm in Sacramento in January 2008, and a warrant out of Union City for criminal threats and brandishing a weapon.The two bears in the grizzly enclosure are sisters and about 5 or 6 years old, according to zoo officials. The zoo rescued them in 2005 when they were going to be euthanized for raiding ranchers’ barns in Montana.
Copyright © 2009 by Bay City News, Inc. Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.