Polar Bear Escapes Enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo


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Curtesy Cincinnati Zoo.

Courtesy Cincinnati Zoo.

Two polar bears escaped their enclosure, putting the Cincinnati Zoo on lockdown Wednesday afternoon. The Bears, named Berit and Little One, never left the exhibit building itself, and no guests or animals were hurt. The zoo briefly closed and moved all guests indoors, though they were free to leave if they wished.

The zoo initially thought only one bear had gotten loose when they posted about the situation on its Facebook page, stating, “At approximately 11:30am, Wednesday, March 16, 2016 our female polar bear Berit breached a behind the scenes containment area but was never loose in the zoo. The situation is ongoing and under control. There is no risk to staff or visitors in the park, but as a precaution guests were moved indoors. Visitors are safe to leave the park if they choose. There are no injuries to animal staff or visitors. We are currently working on resolving the situation.”

Later, the zoo added another update saying “Cincinnati Zoo is now reopen. Polar bears are contained and unharmed. Thank you for your patience.”

Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard discussed the space with local media later in the day saying, “The double-containment system that we have in place in the polar bear exhibit worked. The bears entered an inappropriate area, but did not leave the building and the public was never at risk. We have a number of keepers that work in our bear line. We have three different species and they are aware of where those animals are, and when they noticed it was in the wrong place, they alerted security and veterinary teams.”

Many guests locked down in the zoo shared their experience on social media, most of whom seemed to be taking the situation in stride.

Understandably, zoo officials were less enthusiastic, with Maynard saying that zoo employees would “have a very big ongoing debriefing situation to see what door got opened and how to make sure that’s secure in the future.”