Watch: Black Bear Surprises Principal After Jumping Out Of School Garbage Container

28 January 2020, Lower Saxony, Osnabrück: Black bear "Honey" can be found in the black bear enclosure in the North American animal world "Manitoba" in Osnabrück Zoo.
Photo by Friso Gentsch/picture alliance via Getty Images

West Virginia school principal James Marsh got quite the surprise when he went out to unlock a large trash container on Monday — a black bear poked his head out of the receptacle, sending Marsh running for a hiding spot.

In a clip shared on Facebook by the Nicholas County Board of Education, the principal of Zela Elementary School came face to face with the large bear — which leaped out of the dumpster after Marsh had unlocked a bar over the trash container, People magazine noted.

“Who says principals don’t deserve hazard pay?” the school district captioned its post. The message on the surveillance footage read, May 1, 2023, at 7:16 am.

“That was a big surprise. I was not expecting that” Marsh told WSAZ 3. “You throw trash in a dumpster and you throw things in it, but you really don’t expect things to come out.”


“I have not been that close to one, and I doubt many people have,” he added. “I didn’t even get to open the lid. It just popped out of there like a jack-in-the-box. It let out a pretty loud growl or roar, actually, and that was about the most intimidating thing of the whole event.”

Marsh said the clip of the bear has since gone viral at the school, with the kids calling it “hilarious.”

“The students at the school, they wanted to see it, and I showed it to all of them,” the principal said. “They thought it was just hilarious.”

After he unlocked the container, Marsh could be seen taking off running — but another person standing by an open back door also quickly reversed course and closed the door, leaving the principal to deal with hairy situation alone. The bear then ran off out into the nearby woods, and the person unlocked the door and directed the school principal to come inside.


Marsh said he thinks the whole incident was “equally” surprising to both him and the bear. “When you’re that close, they don’t seem that friendly.”

In the later portion of the clip, both Marsh and the person by the back door appeared to be catching their breath and noting to each other just how scary the situation had been.

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