Black bear escapes habitat at Texas zoo and goes for a dip in seals' pool; no one hurt

The Associated Press
August 5, 2014 02:35 PM

This photo provided by the Gladys Porter Zoo shows Oscar, a black bear a few minutes before he managed to climb out of his exhibit area on Monday morning, Aug 4, 2014 at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. An official with the zoo on Tuesday said Oscar will remain out of public view, in his sleeping quarters, until repairs are made to the bear grotto. His escape lasted about 90 minutes. (AP Photos/Gladys Porter Zoo, Patricia Scanlan)

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - A black bear who managed to climb out of a Texas zoo exhibit took a dip in a pond with some harbour seals before staffers tranquilized him.

No one was hurt in the incident Monday at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville. Zoo spokeswoman Cynthia Galvan said Tuesday that the 220-pound (100-kilogram) male bear, named Oscar, is staying in his sleeping quarters, out of public view, until repairs are made to cracks in the concrete wall of the bear grotto.

Oscar apparently made his way out by digging his claws into cracks in the grotto's concrete wall, Galvan said.

"A zoo visitor witnessed that he was trying to climb the wall, went to report it to one of the zoo employees," Galvan said.

When staff arrived, Oscar was already out. "He meandered his way through the amphitheatre and into the harbour seals' pool for a dip," Galvan said.

Staff members contained him within 15 minutes at the pool, Galvan said. The zoo was locked down, with visitors safely moved into buildings, for about 90 minutes, Galvan said. Meanwhile, the zoo's two harbour seals seemed unfazed by the bear, she said.

"From what I understand everyone was just swimming around. They didn't seem bothered by the bear and the bear didn't seem bothered by them," Galvan said.

Staffers waited for Oscar to leave the pool, then eased him through some opened doors, leading to a behind-the-scenes area, before using a dart to tranquilize him, Galvan said.

Oscar was captured in the wild in 2012 and is believed to be about 4 years old, Galvan said. The zoo's only other black bear is a female who is about 2 years old.

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