HomeOutdoorsNewsDocumentarian Andreas Kieling mauled by brown bear while filming

Documentarian Andreas Kieling mauled by brown bear while filming

by Jon D. B.
Andreas Kieling mauled by brown bear
Germany's Andreas Kieling, Eurasian brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos). (Photo credits: Getty Images)

Revered German wildlife documentarian Andreas Kieling, 63, was filming in Central Europe when the brown bear ambushed him. He survived, but not without serious injury and intense determination.

At first, Kieling updated his social media following with a simple statement and photo. “Bear attack a week ago while filming rare waterfowl in the High Carpathians,” he captioned a shot of his back yesterday (May 14), which shows a bloody tear straight through his jacket.

“The bear is fine, he just followed his instinct! I’m feeling totally ok again!” he added. This was the first the public had heard of his incident. What followed, however, was a far more apt – and graphic – representation.

*WARNING* Graphic Image:

In truth, Andreas Kieling – who’s spent decades documenting bears and other wildlife across the globe – was severely mauled by a Eurasian brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) while filming in the Carpathian Mountains of Central Europe. To the naturalist, this place is known as “Dracula’s Forest,” a fortuitous moniker.

‘The bear came thundering out of the bushes…’

“It happened incredibly quickly,” Kieling offers in a video (speaking his native German) posted to his Facebook page.

“The bear came thundering out of the bushes… My instincts helped me to put up the [camera] tripod as some kind of protective shield. Then I rammed it into the bear’s mouth as I tried to protect my neck and my head,” he describes of the harrowing attack.

The bear still managed to rip into his face, causing deep damage to the tissues on his forehead. Thankfully, his skull remained intact.

“I was convinced it would be fractured,” he recalls. The brown bear then managed to wrap its maw around Keiling’s left forearm. With immense bite power, the bruin sunk teeth deep into his flesh.

“It is seriously injured,” he adds, noting that surgeons had to remove “small pieces of my bones” from surrounding tissue.

In his video update, Kieling’s head and left arm are bandaged. An abrasion across his nose is healing. But he is, by all accounts, doing well and continuing with his work as usual. This isn’t his first rode, after all.

Andreas Kieling has been mauled by bears before, and knows when it is his fault

Kieling has been attacked by bears twice before; both Alaskan filming incidents. As a naturalist, he knows when to blame a bear and when to blame himself, however.

“It’s hard to determine how it all happened. There are numerous possible reasons,” he says. “The bear is not to blame. I must take the blame.”

In other words, “It was not the bear’s fault… I entered the animal’s territory.”

Pulling from a lifetime of experience, Kieling lists numerable reasons as to why the Eurasian brown bear lashed out.

“Male hormones are currently buzzing,” he notes, as the species’ mating season kicks up in May and lasts through July. “Another possibility is that a deer carcass was lying in the bushes somewhere, and the bear simply wanted to defend its prey,” he adds. Or, he says, this may have been a sow protecting her cubs.

We’ll never have a definitive answer. Neither will Andreas Kieling, but he doesn’t need one.

“Bears perceive humans as another predatory species, just like wolves, hyenas, tigers or leopards,” he offers. “Bears don’t exist to kill us. In fact, we are living in parallel societies.”

Regardless, the award-winning documentarian, author, and explorer was critically wounded by the incident, and was in need of help in the aftermath of his brutal experience. Miraculously, he was able to get up, then find help towards civilization. Then, a stranger was “kind enough” to drive him over 22 hours to his home in Germany.

So, in his book, both humans and bears are still alright.