March 28, 2023

A bear escaped its outdoor habitat at the St. Louis Zoo on Thursday, prompting a lockdown that lasted for about an hour, the zoo said. It was the second time in one month that the bear had managed to escape, the zoo revealed.

“Around 1 o’clock today, Ben once again got out of his outdoor habitat,” the zoo said in a statement on Facebook, adding that “Guests and staff on grounds were quickly escorted into various indoor facilities while team members secured Ben, which took approximately 50 minutes from start to finish.”

CBS affiliate KMOV-TV reported that the bear was captured after being sedated with a tranquilizer dart.

The bear previously escaped from that same outdoor habitat on Feb. 7. 

In the first instance, the zoo said, the bear “got out by meddling with the steel mesh in just the right spot of the outdoor habitat, causing a cable to give way.” About 90 minutes after he was discovered outside the habitat, Ben was tranquilized and moved to an indoor holding area, the zoo said at the time

In the wake of that incident, the zoo said that it added “stainless steel cargo clips rated at 450 pounds tensile strength” to better secure the outdoor habitat. “Yet, that wasn’t enough for Ben,” the zoo said Thursday.

The zoo did not elaborate on how exactly Ben managed to escape the second time.

Ben, a 4-year-old Andean bear, has been at the St. Louis Zoo since the summer of 2021 after being sent over from the Queens Zoo in New York City, the zoo said. Andean bears, also known as spectacled bears, are the only known living bears native to South America. They are a threatened species, meaning they face a high risk of going extinct in the wild, according to the zoo.



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