Knoxville Zoo
12:43 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Wild Bear Attempts Knox Zoo Break-in Under Cover Of Darkness

Otis (shown here), one of four black bears at the Knoxville Zoo, was sound asleep last night and oblivious to an attempted break-in by one of his wild cousins.
Credit Knoxville-zoo.org

Maybe he was looking to find a place where he could get a good night's sleep.  Maybe he was lonely and looking for a little female companionship.  Or maybe he was inspired by the story of an 82 year-old nun who broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge last summer. 

No, says Knoxville Zoo Mammal Curator Amy Flew, the young black bear seen scaling one of the zoo's perimeter fences early this morning was probably just looking for food.  And for the record, she says no one is sure whether the bear was actually a "he".

Zoo rangers spotted the bear climbing the fence around midnight.  They immediately did a Black Bear Falls Exhibit head-count to make sure it wasn't one of their own.  "All four of our bears were asleep and here at the zoo," Flew says.

By the time animal control officers got out to the fence, the bear was gone.  Flew says it may still be wandering around the East Knoxville neighborhood surrounding the zoo.  She warns against feeding it or trying to trap it.  Rather, she suggests calling Animal Control. 

If the bear is eventually found on the Knoxville Zoo grounds, officials there have promised to waive the admission fee.