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'Escape artist' bear from St. Louis Zoo headed to Texas

Ben, a 4-year-old Andean bear, gained fame after escaping from his enclosure twice.
Credit: JoEllen Toller, St. Louis Zoo, courtesy of AP News
Ben, a 4-year-old Andean bear

ST. LOUIS, Missouri — A famous bear is being moved to Texas from the St. Louis Zoo after escaping from his enclosure one too many times.

Ben, a 4-year-old Andean bear, will move to the Gladys Porter Zoo near South Padre Island in Brownsville, TX and into an enclosure with a moat in an attempt to stop his "wandering".

The St. Louis Zoo explained that Ben's "specific and unique personality" was the reason for the move.

The Gladys Porter Zoo where Ben will make his new home has a long history of working with Andean bears like Ben, but they will reportedly still be adding a few extra security measures.

Ben gained notoriety at the zoo in Feb. 2023 after escaping from his habitat twice. 

In Ben's first escape, he tore apart clips that attached stainless steel mesh to the frame of a door on his habitat. Thankfully, Ben was recaptured before the zoo opened for the day.

After Ben's first escape, zoo workers reportedly added "zip tie-like attachments" with a tensile strength of 450 pounds to the enclosure, but Ben still managed to escape again two weeks later. The zoo was open during Ben's second escape, but he was reportedly captured again within the hour on a public path.

Ben currently lives in a non-public area of the St. Louis Zoo, with indoor and outdoor space and even a pool for him to play in.

“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.

Thankfully, the Gladys Porter Zoo is happy to take Ben in.

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

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