An Andean bear escaped its enclosure for the second time this month. It prompted yet another lockdown at the St. Louis Zoo. Back on Thursday, the bear was seen crawling through a hole in the mesh material that fences off his enclosure. “It’s only the second time it’s happened in the history of having that particular habitat,” Zoo Director Michael Macek said. “We review all of our habitats regularly. We are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, so we are inspected regularly. Ben will not be out again until we are absolutely sure he won’t be able to get through the mesh again.”
According to KMOV4, the bear’s name is Ben was soon after hit with a tranquilizer dart by zoo officials. He was then moved back into his indoor habitat while the hole in the fence was repaired. Zoo guests were ushered away from the area while crews searched for the animal. The bear was out of its enclosure for almost an hour before the situation settled down.
It’s not the first time the very same bear has escaped though. It previously busted loose on February 7th as well. The 4-year-old bear weighs roughly 300 pounds. According to the News Observer, the bear was discovered outside of his enclosure first thing in the morning when zoo employees arrived on the scene.
Bear Breaks Free Of Zoo Exhibit For Second Time This Month
The zoo shared news of the first incident via Facebook. The post had more details on the bear, its specific enclosure and protocols for this type of situation.
“Yesterday, around 8 a.m., a male Andean bear named Ben was discovered outside of its habitat in the River’s Edge. The Zoo Animal Emergency Response protocol was implemented and various team members responded accordingly. Thankfully, at approximately 9:40 a.m., the bear was secured near his habitat and staff were able to tranquilize and safely return him to the indoor holding area.
It’s important that we let you know that we have reviewed the evidence available from yesterday morning and we have no reason to believe that there was any human fault or tampering that led to the bear’s escape out of its outdoor habitat. Instead, it would appear that the very curious bear meddled with the steel mesh in just the right spot of the outdoor habitat, causing a cable to give way, which then allowed the bear to work his way out. Team members will continue to inspect this habitat and make decisions to make it even more secure than it is now. Additionally, team members are looking at any other similar habitats to see if any necessary steps are needed.
The years of experience with escape drills and training really paid off yesterday. Given the situation, we couldn’t be more proud of the outcome.“
Safety Is The #1 Priority
The post continued to explain that safety for both the bear and zoo visitors is of utmost importance.
“Safety is our #1 goal – that of our animals, staff, and guests. Thankfully, no animals, no staff, and no guests were injured or harmed in any way. The incident that took place yesterday occurred outside of Zoo operating hours and was safely resolved before the Zoo opened to the public.
The bear received a full medical exam following the incident and he is doing just fine.
Ben came to the Saint Louis Zoo in the summer of 2021 as a recommendation from the Andean Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP), which manages a genetic reserve of this species in North America. The Andean bear is the only bear found in South America and is considered vulnerable due to habitat loss and poaching threats. Currently, there are approximately 30 individuals in the SSP population.”