Ben the Bear is finding a new home.
The Andean bear is being moved from the Saint Louis Zoo in Missouri to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville due to his "specific and unique personality," the zoo said in a news release Tuesday (March 21). Ben escaped his habitat twice in two weeks last month.
"While we love Ben, and wish he could stay with us, our goal is to do what is best for him. 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," said Regina Mossotti, vice president of animal care at the Saint Louis Zoo.
The zoo said it's in "Ben's best interest" to move him to the Lone Star State. "The Gladys Porter Zoo is an AZA-accredited zoo with a long history of working with Andean bears. Their Andean bear habitat that includes a moat rather than steel mesh outdoor habitat, which the group believes would be a more ideal environment for Ben," the zoo said, adding that his previous home in Missouri "met all standards for this species."
As far as Ben's move goes, staff are "providing Ben with excellent care and fun enrichment opportunities while also using positive reinforcement training to help him become comfortable with his travel crate so that he has a smooth journey to his new home in Texas," the Saint Louis Zoo said.
Andean bears are considered a vulnerable species, meaning that they have a high risk of extinction in the wild. Less than 18,000 of these bears now survive in the wild due to deforestation.