Wild bear wanders into Idaho zoo, climbs tree near cougars

By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |  July 5, 2018 at 10:53 AM
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July 5 (UPI) -- Wildlife officials in Idaho said what was initially thought to be an escaped bear at a zoo in the state turned out to be a wild bear that wandered into the facility.

Peter Pruett, superintendent of Zoo Idaho in Pocatello, said he received a call early Tuesday morning from zoo workers who spotted a black bear on the loose inside the zoo.

"Our vet came in to do his normal rounds and work with our staff and at seven o'clock I got a call saying, 'Hey I think we have a black bear out,'" Pruett told the Idaho State Journal.

"I got here at 10 after seven and checked on the grizzly bears who were safely secured. I came down and checked on our black bears and they were safe, too. But just down the pathway this little guy was just standing there in front of the cougar exhibit," he said.

Jennifer Jackson of the Idaho Fish and Game Department said the bear is the first member of its species known to have wandered into Pocatello.

"It really measures high on the irony scale that we have a wild bear at Zoo Idaho that actually worked his way and came into this zoo," Jackson told KPVI-TV.

The bear climbed a tree about 7 a.m. and stayed in its perch until the afternoon, when it descended far enough for Fish and Game officials to safely shoot it with tranquilizer darts.

Jackson said the bear received a tracking collar, so officials will know if it wanders back toward the city.

"He's going off to a much better location where he can actually be a bear and hopefully not have to be in conflict with anyone," Jackson said.

Pruett said officials are baffled as to how the bear managed to enter the zoo, which finally opened for the day at 3:15 p.m.

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