A 21-year-old man who climbed into the San Francisco Zoo’s grizzly bear grotto in September after reportedly hearing the voice of a famous male model in his head has been acquitted of any criminal charges, according to the district attorney’s office.
A jury today found Kenneth Herron not guilty of a misdemeanor charge of disturbing a dangerous animal, just a day after trial Judge Wallace Douglass dismissed the only other count against Herron, misdemeanor trespassing.
Herron, who has a history of mental illness, somehow got into 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. on Sept. 26.
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.
The bears were then taken safely into their night quarters and secured.
Herron later told a court-appointed psychiatrist that he was compelled to enter the grotto because he heard the voice of male model Tyson Beckford telling him that a female needed help, according to district attorney’s office spokesman Brian Buckelew.
Herron could have faced up to a year in county jail in San Francisco, but will now be transferred to authorities in either Sacramento or Alameda counties, where he faces other criminal charges.
Herron is on probation in Sacramento County after being convicted of attempting to remove a police officer’s firearm in January 2008, Buckelew said. He also picked up an indecent exposure charge in the county in August.
Herron additionally has a warrant out of Union City for threatening his family with a knife, according to Buckelew.