A bear from the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens escaped its exhibit Wednesday and was fatally shot after officials deemed it a threat to human lives.

The threat was confirmed after the bear attacked a zookeeper shortly after it escaped around 5 p.m. EST. The bear is said to of been "actively attacking" the worker when officials arrived.

A zoo curator said they made the "executive decision to move in and shoot the bear," according to a police report. The bear was a 5-year-old North American black bear named Jonny.

"Our highest priority is always the safety of human lives, therefore, the bear was shot and killed," a statement from the zoo said.

"We will be conducting an ongoing investigation over the coming days and weeks. We do not take this lightly. It is profoundly painful when we have a loss of an animal, especially under circumstances such as this," it added.

The zookeeper who was attacked was immediately rushed to the hospital after people could access them following the bear being shot, according to staff members.

"The zoo has been around for over 106 years and our mission is to connect people with wildlife and wild places," Jacksonville Zoo Director of Marketing Kelly Rouillard said.

"We love wildlife and our staff has a huge passion for animals as well, our animal care team has cared for these animals for years. So this is something that is very disheartening to us to have to face a situation like this," Rouillard added.