Ben the Bear Moving to Texas Zoo with Moat After Escaping St. Louis Zoo Enclosure Twice

·3-min read

"While we love Ben, and wish he could stay with us, our goal is to do what is best for him," said Regina Mossotti, the vice president of animal care at the St. Louis Zoo

Saint Louis Zoo Ben, the Andean bear
Saint Louis Zoo Ben, the Andean bear

Ben — the 4-year-old Andean bear who escaped his St. Louis Zoo enclosure twice in one month — is moving to a new zoo in Texas.

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Zoo announced that it is moving Ben to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, after consulting with several advisory groups, including the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Queens Zoo — where Ben was born.

St. Louis Zoo experts said that while the Missouri zoo's Andean bear habitat "met all standards" set by the AZA and the United States Department of Agriculture, the habitat was not "ideal" for Ben's "specific and unique personality."

The experts believe the moat at the Andean bear habitat at the Gladys Porter Zoo could create "a more ideal environment" for Ben over the "steel mesh outdoor habitat" at the St. Louis Zoo.

Related:Ben the Bear Escapes from His Enclosure at the St. Louis Zoo for the Second Time in a Month

"While we love Ben, and wish he could stay with us, our goal is to do what is best for him," said Regina Mossotti, the vice president of animal care at the St. Louis Zoo. "I am so grateful for the excellent care provided to Ben by our Animal Care team here and everyone's willingness to seek opportunities for Ben to thrive."

The zoo did not say when Ben would be transferred, but those who want to see the bear for a final time at the St. Louis Zoo may be out of luck as Ben is currently living in "a non-public area" of the zoo that has "both indoor and outdoor options" and a pool, per the zoo.

"Staff members are providing Ben with excellent care and fun enrichment opportunities while also using positive reinforcement training to help him become comfortable with his travel crate so that he has a smooth journey to his new home in Texas," the St. Louis Zoo shared in a release.

RELATED Video: Stolen Alligator Finally Returned to Texas Zoo 20 Years Later

Ben escaped from his habitat at the zoo on Feb. 7 and Feb. 24. His latest escape attempt lasted about 50 minutes. It triggered the Zoo Animal Emergency Response protocol, which requires zoo guests and staff to move into indoor facilities.

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"Ben got out by meddling with the steel mesh in just the right spot of the outdoor habitat, causing a cable to give way, which then allowed him to work his way out," the zoo said at the time.

Andean bears are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, less than 18,000 Andean bears remain in the wild.

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