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'Bear'-ly able to escape: Andean bear found outside habitat at Saint Louis Zoo

Ben came to the Saint Louis Zoo in the summer of 2021. No visitors were in the Zoo when he got out of his habitat.

ST. LOUIS — He was 'bear'-ly able to escape.

Around 8 a.m. Tuesday, Ben, an Andean bear, was discovered outside of his habitat at the Saint Louis Zoo

The zoo's animal emergency response protocol took place with various team members responding to the discovery.

According to Billy Brennan with the zoo, after reviewing Ben's habitat they have no reason to believe there was any human fault or tampering that led to Ben's escape out of his outdoor habitat. 

"It would appear that the very curious bear meddled with the steel mesh in just the right spot of the outdoor habitat, causing a cable to give way, which then allowed the bear to work his way out," Brennan said. 

Ben wasn't out of his habitat for long. Members of the zoo were able to secure and tranquilize him around 9:40 a.m. He was then returned to his habitat. 

The zoo doesn't open to visitors until 10 a.m. on weekdays, so no visitors were present at the time.

The zoo will continue to inspect the habitat and discuss ways to keep them secure. Similar habitats will also be reviewed. 

Ben came to the zoo in the summer of 2021 after a recommendation from the Andean Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP). The Andean bear is the only bear found in South America and is considered vulnerable due to habitat loss and poaching threats. 

There are approximately 30 Andean bears in the SSP population, according to the zoo's press release. 

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