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This Bear Escaped From the St. Louis Zoo — For the Second Time

Last week, a four-year-old Andean bear escaped from his habitat in the St. Louis Zoo, sending the entire facility into an hour-long lockdown. 

Guests and staff were corralled into safe indoor facilities while the zoo staff worked to secure the bear, named Ben. According to news network KMOV-TV, Ben was ultimately subdued with a tranquilizer dart and taken back to his enclosure. 

This isn’t the first time this has happened. Ben also managed to bust loose about two weeks earlier when he “meddled with the steel mesh in just the right spot,” said the S. Louis Zoo in a statement. That caused a cable to give way, leaving just enough room for the young bear to slip out.

“The habitat we’ve had since 2016, we have not had a bear escape from that habitat ever,” Zoo Director Michael Macek has said in past interviews. “He’s just very curious.”

After the first escape, the zoo took precautions to reinforce Ben’s habitat against by adding stainless steel cargo clips. That proved fruitless, however, as the added security apparently wasn’t enough to stop the determined bear. It’s unclear how Ben managed to escape his habitat for a second time, however. After he was located, he was given a bear-size veterinary check and was determined to be safe and healthy.

Andean bears are found in South America. They’re also known as “spectacled bears” due to lighter rings of facial fur, which can look like eyeglasses. Those same markings can extend further down each bear’s chest, giving them unique fur patterns that aid in their identification. They typically weigh between 200 and 300 pounds, with males a bit larger than females. While they don’t normally bother humans (especially in a zoo setting), they can be dangerous if provoked.

Andean bears are known to be curious creatures, and Ben is no exception.

“At four years old, we know Ben is young and adventurous,” the zoo said in a statement. “Our team will continue to work collaboratively and consult with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Bear Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) to investigate other alternative ways to secure the habitat.”

The zoo did not elaborate on what measures were being taken to prevent a potential third escape attempt. 

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