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Escape-artist Missouri bear heads to Texas zoo with moat

Mar 22, 2023, 4:35 PM

FILE - This 2021 photo provided by the St. Louis Zoo shows the zoo's Andean bear named Ben. The St....

FILE - This 2021 photo provided by the St. Louis Zoo shows the zoo's Andean bear named Ben. The St. Louis Zoo announced Tuesday, March 21, 2023, that the escape-artist bear from Missouri is headed to a Texas zoo with a moat in hopes it will put an end to his wandering. (JoEllen Toler/St. Louis Zoo via AP, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(JoEllen Toler/St. Louis Zoo via AP, File)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — An escape-artist bear from Missouri is headed to a Texas zoo with a moat in hopes that it will put an end to his wandering.

The St. Louis Zoo cited the “specific and unique personality” of the Andean bear named Ben in announcing the move Tuesday. His soon-to-be home at the Gladys Porter Zoo near South Padre Island in Brownsville, Texas, has a long history of working with Andean bears. But it’s still adding some extra security measures.

“We’re confident it’s going to be good for Ben,” said Walter Dupree, the Texas zoo’s curator of mammals.

Ben gained notoriety in February by busting out of his habitat twice.

The first time, the 4-year-old, 280-pound (127-kilogram) bear tore apart clips that attached stainless steel mesh to the frame of a door. But he was recaptured before the zoo opened for the day.

Zoo workers then added zip tie-like attachments made of stainless steel that had 450 pounds (204 kilograms) of tensile strength. But Ben managed to escape through those about two weeks later. The zoo was open this time, but he was captured less than an hour later on a public path.

Ben now lives in a nonpublic area of the St. Louis Zoo, where he can move indoors and out — and even splash in a pool — while he awaits his move.

“He’s so fun, he’s so playful — we would love to be able to keep him here,” said Regina Mossotti, the St. Louis Zoo’s vice president of animal care.

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Escape-artist Missouri bear heads to Texas zoo with moat