On Thursday, an Andean bear at the St. Louis Zoo broke out of his enclosure for the second time this month. This particular bear is physically unique. That’s because of the rings of light fur around its eyes, which can resemble eyeglasses (or spectacles) when compared to the rest of the bear’s black or dark brown fur, which is why the Andean bear of South America is also known as the spectacled bear.
Officials discovered less than an hour later that Ben, the 4-year-old bear weighing about 300 pounds who escaped, was only 100 feet from his habitat, according to a statement from the zoo. When found he was tranquilized and taken to an indoor holding area around 9:40 am before being returned to his pen.
The bear escaped the outdoor area at 1 p.m., according to a news release from the zoo, and he was captured around 50 minutes after visitors and employees were brought indoors.
Ben tore through stainless steel clamps that had been used to help secure his area after an escape on February 7, according to zoo director Michael Macek, who described Ben as “inquisitive.”
The announcement stated that even though the cargo clamps have a 450-pound tensile strength rating, “it wasn’t enough for Ben.”
“The zoo stated in a news release at the time that Ben was discovered during the earlier escape outside of his habitat in the River’s Edge section of the zoo.”
According to the press release, “It would seem that the highly curious bear interfered with the steel mesh in just the correct area of the outdoor habitat, causing a cable to give way, which then allowed the bear to make his way out.”
The zoo announced on Thursday that it would speak with an association of zoos and aquariums advisory panel in an effort to identify alternative strategies for securing Ben’s habitat. Zoo officials said they are now coordinating with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Bear Taxon Advisory Group on alternative ways to secure the enclosure.