(Reuters) - A two-month-old bear cub meant to help students relax before final exams nipped more than a dozen of them at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and will have to be killed for rabies testing, the school said Friday.
The cub, named Boo Boo, was brought to the university campus on Sunday along with other animals from a local petting zoo, the school said in a statement. About 14 students reported that the young bear bit them hard enough to pierce their skin.
Animals from the zoo have been brought to the private university in St. Louis for several years during exam time, but Boo Boo was included this year without the university's knowledge, the statement said.
Health officials cannot rule out the possibility that the cub had rabies and will have to euthanize it and test it for the disease, the university said.
If the bear tests positive, students will be advised to get vaccinated for rabies, a life-threatening viral disease.
"This is an extremely unfortunate situation for our students and the bear cub," the university said.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Missouri; Editing by David Bailey and Alden Bentley)