ST. LOUIS – A young Andean bear who escaped his habitat twice at the Saint Louis Zoo last month will soon have a new home.
Ben, an Andean bear, escaped from his enclosure on Feb. 7 and Feb. 23, prompting two brief lockdowns at the zoo. In the near future, Ben will have a new home at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas.
The Saint Louis Zoo says even though it met all standards to shelter Andean Bears, staff members “focused on Ben’s specific and unique personality to help determine the best home for the young bear” after two escapes.
The Gladys Porter Zoo is an AZA-accredited zoo with a long history of working with Andean bears. Their Andean bear habitat includes a moat rather than steel mesh outdoor habitat, which could be a more ideal environment for Ben to roam around.
“While we love Ben, and wish he could stay with us, our goal is to do what is best for him,” said Regina Mossotti, Vice President of Animal Care, Saint 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.”
Leading up to this decision, Ben had been placed in a non-public area of the Saint Louis Zoo with both some indoor and outdoor components. Staff members are working to train Ben to get him comfortable in a travel crate before he moves to Texas.
After Ben’s recent escapes, Saint Louis Zoo staff experts consulted with members of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Andean Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP), the AZA Bear Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Queens Zoo in New York on his future.
Ben was born at the Queens Zoo and was transferred to the Saint Louis Zoo in July 2021 as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Andean Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP).