Officials have declared that a bear, who managed to flee from his enclosure at the St. Louis Zoo on two separate occasions in the previous month, will now be relocated to a facility in Texas. The bear, originally from New York City, will be situated in an environment surrounded by a protective moat.
Ben, a 4-year-old Andean bear, made national headlines after the escape artist broke out of his outdoor habitat two times in February.
St. Louis Zoo officials announced that the 280-pound bear, known for his unique and specific personality, will be moved to the Texas Brownsville Zoo by Zoo Porter Gladys.
The new enclosure surrounding the bear will be surrounded by a moat, as opposed to an ineffective outdoor mesh steel habitat.
Regina Mossotti, the vice president of animal care at the St. Louis Zoo, informed the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday, “We examined every possibility.”
We would love to be able to keep him here — he’s so playful, he’s so fun. The team that has taken care of him has fallen in love with him, as he is such a character. We love Ben.
Before the zoo opened for the day, He was captured about 40 minutes later. Ben, who was born at the Queens Zoo in St. Louis in 2021, made his first escape from the “Edge River’s immersion exhibit” by forcing his way through the steel mesh right in his spot.
Afterwards, zoo staff “enhanced the enclosure’s security by incorporating stainless steel cargo clips with a tensile strength rating of 450 pounds.”
Ben broke out again on Feb. 24, when he crawled through a hole in the attached fencing mesh.
The zoo exclaimed that the escape caused a state of panic among visitors, who hurriedly sought safety in “different indoor areas,” while staff members searched the premises in order to locate the fugitive animal at approximately 1 p.M.
About 50 minutes later, Ben was spotted about 100 feet from the enclosure and shot with a tranquilizer dart, according to reports.
Michael Macek, the director of St. Louis Zoo, said that Ben would definitely not be put back in the habitat at the zoo until his second breakout was over.
The zoo stated that employees previously looked after Andean bears without any escapees. The Andean bear habitat was constructed in 2014 and complied with all requirements for the species.
Ben is currently residing in an outdoor and indoor facility in a non-public area of the St. Louis Zoo, where he is undergoing positive reinforcement training for his southward journey in a crate.
Walter Dupree, the mammals’ curator at the Gladys Porter Zoo, informed the Post-Dispatch that the zoo is prepared for Ben’s arrival.
“We’re certain it’s going to be beneficial for Ben. It has demonstrated its value over the years,” Dupree stated regarding the habitat.
He said that there is a deep moat in front of the exhibit, which is about 8 feet deep. Additionally, an additional electrical wire is being added to the top of the 16-foot wall, which would give Ben a mild shock if he climbed up the boat.
“We’re not placing it anywhere he can access it unless he pushes,” stated Dupree.
The bears known as Andean spectacled bears are native to South America, specifically Venezuela to Bolivia, and live in the mountain forests. They are the only bear species that inhabit this stretch of forests. These bears are also called spectacled bears because they have unique individualized markings on their faces that resemble eyeglasses.
In their natural habitat, there are only between 2,500 to 10,000 fully-grown creatures remaining, categorized as “at risk” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Gland, Switzerland.