Bear Breaks Out of St. Louis Zoo, Causes Stir
Ben, a 4-year-old Andean bear, caused a stir at the Saint Louis Zoo earlier this month when he escaped his enclosure twice in a span of two weeks. The first escape happened on Feb. 7 when Ben tampered with the steel mesh surrounding the exhibit and caused a cable to break. The zoo responded by adding stainless steel cargo clips rated at 450 pounds tensile strength to the enclosure in order to better secure the outdoor habitat. However, Ben was still able to break out and was free for around 50 minutes before he was tranquilized and returned to his habitat.
Ben was born at the Queens Zoo and was transferred to the Saint Louis Zoo in July 2021 as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Andean Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP). Andean bears are the only known living bears native to South America and are a threatened species.
The zoo quickly implemented its “Zoo Animal Emergency Response protocol” and guests and staff were escorted to indoor facilities while the bear was secured. The entire operation took around 50 minutes and was captured after being sedated with a tranquilizer dart. Zoo Director Michael Macek, who described Ben as “curious,” said he tore through the clips that had been used to help secure his enclosure.
The zoo intends to collaborate with other reputable parks which are members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to devise new methods of preventing the bear from escaping its habitat. “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,” the zoo said in a statement.
Visitors at the zoo were able to witness the event firsthand, with one visitor saying, “We will never forget this day that the bear escaped the zoo.
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