Heartbreaking tributes paid to polar bear attack victim mauled to death

Tributes have been paid to the Dutch man attacked by a polar bear while he slept – before being dragged away from camp and killed by the animal.

Tragic Johan "Job" Jacobus Kootte, 38, was lying in his tent when the giant animal attacked him with emergency services unable to rescue him after the violent incident that took place last Thursday, August 27.

Mr Kootte was mauled to death by the polar bear while his friends watched on outside the town of Longyearbyen in Svalbard, Norway.

The bear was later shot and killed and is set to be given an autopsy, local news reports state.

“Job was my friend. He was the sweetest kindest person you could ever meet,” wrote Stefan Leenaars, in a Reddit discussion about the attack.

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“He was looking for a job to sustain himself during Covid and returned to Svalbard (which he loved) to run the campsite and survive financially.

"He wasn’t doing anything that hasn’t been done safely there for 40 years. He just got really unlucky."

Gunnar Helås wrote in a Facebook post he was an "absolutely amazing man".

He said: “He was one of these people sometimes encounters, which is completely impossible to dislike, and he did everything he could to make us the best possible. A true yes human being, simply.

“It was completely impossible not to love him. He was the type of person who did everything he could to make those around him have a good time, and he had a warm and good personality.”

News outlet Svalbardposten have shared an account by local assistant governor, Sølvi Elvedahl.

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She stated: “Several shots were fired at the bear.

“We know that the deceased was alive when our people came to the place, and passed away not long after.”

Six others have been treated by psychologists in relation to the incident.

Mr Kootte, from Holland, had been working on the camp site at the time of his death.

He had moved from the Netherlands earlier in the year after losing his job due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Svalbardposten reports he was responsible for the running of accommodation in the Longyearbyen camping site.

The six survivors of the bear attack said in a joint statement on Friday: "We now need peace and that we are allowed to mourn our friend who is dead.

“We would like to thank the people of Longyearbyen and the Governor for their efforts and support during this difficult day.”

The incident is the first to include a polar bear fatality in Svalbard since the death of a British schoolboy in the Von Post Glacier camp in August 2011.

Horatio Chapple, from Wiltshire, was 17-years-old when he was mauled to death by a bear while on a school trip with 12 others.

Polar bears can grow up to 8ft in length and can weigh up to 800kgs (125 stone) while attacks are rare – with only 20 fatal polar bear attacks recorded in the world between 1870 and 2014.

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