black bear zoo

Black Bear Zoo Break-In Rattles Knoxville

A black bear zoo break-in took place in Knoxville, Tennessee late Monday night.

We usually think of animals trying to break out of the zoo. Just think of the hullabaloo raised on Monday by the wandering red panda that broke out of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C. — only to be tracked and captured by the forces of Twitter.

However, the black bear spotted at the Knoxville Zoo presented more of a challenge.

According to a Knox News report, a Knoxville Zoo ranger was responding to a complaint about a black bear sighting when he spotted the animal.

It must have spotted him right back, because the 150 pound juvenile black bear then went over the 10-foot high chainlink fence and into the zoo. Just to make sure, the staff did a headcount of their own bears living in the naturalistic Black Bear Falls habitat, but all four were safe at home.

The fast-moving bear managed to elude the zoo rangers. According to WBIR news, several extensive searches of the Knoxville Zoo’s 53 acres were performed, but they couldn’t relocate the bear.

Zoo Executive Director Lisa New told local news sources that they eventually concluded that the bear had escaped the zoo grounds and was back on its way to a more rural location. She also offered a tongue-in-cheek motive for the black bear’s zoo visit:

“[O]ur Black Bear Falls is one of the top habitats in the country so maybe word has gotten out in the black bear community.”

I have a complete discussion of several of 2013’s bear attacks, including an attack by a 400-pound black bear that invaded a man’s cabin in northern Ontario, Canada.

That was an unusually large and determined black bear. In fact, it killed and dragged off the victim’s German shepherd before it returned and tried to take him.

Even though they seem to be familiar parts of the landscape, black bears must be treated with respect.

Still it’s fun to entertain a chuckle over Knoxville’s black bear zoo break-in.

[black bear photo by Forest Wander via Wikimedia Commons]