A bear at the Saint Louis Zoo managed to escape its habitat Thursday, marking the second time the incident has occurred in the month of February, officials say.
Once staff discovered that the 4-year-old Andean Bear named Ben had penetrated the barriers of its outdoor enclosure once again, the zoo went into a state of lockdown for roughly an hour before tranquilizing the animal via a dart and escorting him back to his habitat, according to KMOV. The bear reportedly made it about 100 feet from the escape point before authorities contained him.
Here are pictures of Ben, the 4-year-old Andean Bear who has now escaped his @STLZoo enclosure twice this month, including today.
The zoo says Ben crawled through a mesh hole in his enclosure. He made it about 100 feet before being tranquilized about 50 minutes later. @KMOV pic.twitter.com/sPzXZVFc3X
— Alex Gaul (@AlexGaulTV) February 23, 2023
During the lockdown all guests were brought into several scattered indoor facilities throughout the park, as staff sought to contain Ben, according to KMOV. (RELATED: Elizabeth Banks Takes A ‘Ginormous Risk’ By Releasing Movie ‘Cocaine Bear’)
The bear first escaped Feb. 7, CBS News reported. He broke free the first time by “by meddling with the steel mesh in just the right spot of the outdoor habitat, causing a cable to give way,” the outlet added, citing a statement from the zoo.
The zoo added “stainless steel cargo clips rated at 450 pounds tensile strength” to help secure Ben’s habitat after the first escape, but “that wasn’t enough for Ben,” officials said. (RELATED: NASA Captures Image Of Huge Teddy Bear On Mars’ Surface)
“It’s only the second time it’s happened in the history of having that particular habitat,” Saint Louis Zoo Director Michael Macek told KMOV.
Embearassing: For the second time in a month, a bear at the St. Louis Zoo figured out how to get out of his enclosure. Zoo officials say Ben, an Andean bear, was outside for less than an hour and stayed within 100 feet of his habitat. https://t.co/3ofQSXFaIP
— AP Oddities (@AP_Oddities) February 24, 2023
“We review all of our habitats regularly. We are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, so we are inspected regularly, and Ben will not be out again until we are absolutely sure he won’t be able to get through the mesh again,” Macek continued.
The zoo did not publicly disclose how Ben managed to get out the second time around.
Andean bears have a “vulnerable” conservation status, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. They are the only bear species native to South America, and are mostly found in the mountain ranges of western Venezuela and Bolivia.