Science and TechAnimals and Insects


Rebellious bear that escaped enclosure twice is getting a new home

An Andean bear named Ben is being relocated from the St. Louis Zoo to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas.
An Andean bear named Ben at the St. Louis Zoo.
Posted at 4:26 PM, Mar 23, 2023

A Missouri bear with Harry Houdini dreams is being relocated after escaping his enclosure twice in recent months.

Ben, a 4-year-old Andean bear, is preparing for his big move from the St. Louis Zoo to his new home at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas.

Ben gained popularity in February when he meddled with the steel mesh of his outdoor enclosure, breaking a cable and seeing himself out. He wandered the zoo for nearly an hour before zookeepers cold get him back to his habitat.

In response, zoo staff installed stainless steel cargo clips that had 450 pounds of strength, but even that "wasn't enough for Ben," they said.

Zoo officials cited his "specific and unique personality" when announcing the move earlier this week. 

“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 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.”

Ben currently lives in an open habitat at the St. Louis Zoo that's closed off from the public. It features indoor and outdoor space, including a pool.

But his new habitat in Texas is surrounded by a moat rather than a steel mesh enclosure, which zoo officials believe will be "a more ideal environment for Ben."

Andean bears are the only bears native to South America and are also called spectacled bears due to the coloration around their eyes, which can sometimes look like glasses.