Black bear briefly escapes Columbus Zoo enclosure

By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |  June 27, 2016 at 10:11 AM
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COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 27 (UPI) -- Ohio's Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was placed on a brief lockdown during the weekend when a young black bear escaped from its enclosure.

The zoo said Joanie, a 7-month-old black bear weighing only about 50 pounds, climbed a 14-foot fence in her enclosure about 11:15 a.m. Saturday and even scaled the electric fence, which was live, to reach freedom outside of the bear habitat.

Officials said Joanie, who has only lived at the zoo for a couple of months, was sedated with a dart about 11:30 a.m. and taken to her sleeping quarters.

"The lockdown was quickly downgraded and only the cub's immediate area was considered on lockdown. All guests were moved to safety during the lockdown procedure. The zoo's Emergency Response Team went into immediate action to assess the situation, formulated a plan to tranquilize and secured the animal," the zoo said in a statement following the incident.

"With young animals, just like kids, they're into things, they're looking for something, they're testing everything," Lewis Greene, the Columbus Zoo's senior vice president of animal care and conservation, told WBNS-TV. "In this particular case, Joanie was quite athletic."

Greene said Joanie was captured at the wolverine exhibit, nearly 40 yards away from her enclosure.

The official said there were no injuries reported during the escape and Joanie is recovering well from her enclosure. The bear exhibit was closed for the remainder of the day Saturday and was expected to remain closed pending an investigation.

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