The Escape Artist

Andean Bear escapes from the zoo twice


Photo by the St. Louis Zoo,

Ben eating his food off of a Boomer Ball.

On Feb. 7, Ben, a four-year-old Andean Bear at the St. Louis Zoo, escaped from his enclosure, according to

This was around 8 a.m., approximately two hours before the zoo opened, so no guests were at the park. But the preschool classes at the zoo, which was supposed to start at 8:30 a.m., were canceled for the day, according to

The zoo says that Ben had been messing with the steel mesh around the enclosure when a steel cable broke, which allowed Ben to squeeze through the hole and escape, according to

The zookeepers there tranquilized the bear and were able to get him back into his habitat, according to

To make sure Ben would not escape again, the zoo replaced the old fence clips with stainless steel cargo clips, according to and

The enclosure’s cargo ships weigh roughly 450 pounds. The cargo ships are what the new clips are attached to, but even that did not hold him because, on Feb. 23, Ben escaped again. This time it was around 1 p.m. while guests were wandering around the zoo, according to and

Ben roamed for about 50 minutes while the guests and staff were told to shelter in place while the zoo enacted its “emergency response protocol.” Staffers found Ben relaxing peacefully in the River’s Edge immersion exhibit, according to and

“We actually called it in,” Drew Wilson, a zoo visitor, said to Fox 2 Now. “They showed up maybe two minutes later. The bear was very calm the whole time we saw him. [It] just looked like he was having fun.”

The zookeepers hit Ben with two tranquilizer darts which, once more, put the bear to sleep and allowed the zookeepers to get Ben back into his habitat, according to

The zoo said in a press release that the bear was checked by their zoological veterinarians both times and is doing fine, according to

After talking with the Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA), the Andean Bear Species Survival Plan, the AZA Bear Taxon Advisory Group, and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Queens Zoo, the zoo announced on March 21 that it was in the best interest of visitors and Ben that he be relocated. The Gladys Port Zoo in Brownsville, Texas—where Ben will be moved to—has had extensive work with Andean Bears in the past. Ben’s new habitat will include a moat which experts hope will keep the bear from escaping again,