Andean bear breaks out of enclosure at St. Louis zoo - again

Ben is starting to make a habit of escaping.
Ben is starting to make a habit of escaping. Photo credit: Saint Louis Zoo

An Andean bear at the Saint Louis Zoo is back in his enclosure after escaping his habitat for a second time this month.

The bear, named Ben, broke out of his outdoor habitat Thursday afternoon, according to a statement from the zoo.

But he was not outside for long. The zoo quickly implemented its "Zoo Animal Emergency Response protocol" and guests and staff were escorted to indoor facilities while the bear was secured, the zoo said. The entire operation took around 50 minutes.

This is not the first time Ben went for a stroll outside his enclosure.

Earlier this month, he got out "by meddling with the steel mesh in just the right spot" of his outdoor habitat, causing a cable to give way, which then allowed him to work his way out, the statement from the zoo said.

And although his habitat has been made more secure since then, including adding stainless steel cargo clips rated at 450 pounds tensile strength, Ben still found a way to get out.

"At four years old, we know Ben is young and adventurous. Our team will continue to work collaboratively and consult with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and Bear Taxon Advisory Group to investigate other alternative ways to secure the habitat," the Saint Louis Zoo said in its statement.

According to the zoo's website, Andean bears are the only bears native to South America and live in a variety of habitats around the Andean mountains "from mountain forests to coastal scrublands."

They are arboreal bears and their long, strong claws allow them to be exceptional climbers. However, the species is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.