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Polar Bear Escapes Enclosure, Forces Temporary Lockdown At Zoo

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Update 5:45 p.m.: A news release from the Cincinnati Zoo now says two bears, Berit and 26-year-old Little One "took advantage of an open den door" and got into a service hallway. The two are "resting in their den" and could be back for viewing as early as Friday.  

Update 1:20 p.m.: Zoo Director Thane Maynard says visitors were never at risk Wednesday when 17-year-old polar bear "Berit" got out of her enclosure. Maynard says Berit was able to get into a back hallway area but was never able to roam freely around the Zoo with visitors.

"A polar bear did not escape at the Zoo," says Maynard. "It did get into a behind-the-scenes hallway area."

"The Zoo has safety protocols so we played it safe and got all our visitors into buildings where they could be locked in and made sure it was safe, which it was," says Maynard.

He reports many patrons were waiting outside the Zoo gates for the all-clear to re-enter. Those who left will be offered complimentary passes to return at another time.

Maynard says once both polar bears are safely back in their enclosure, staff will spend time reviewing procedures and the area to make sure this doesn't happen again. He says the animal has never gotten into that area before.

Staff used tranquilizer darts to sedate the bear.

Original Post: A polar bear made a brief escape Wednesday while zookeepers were working in its enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. The zoo says no staff or visitors were ever at risk but everyone was asked to move inside and remain in place.According to a security official, the bear breached its containment zone but never got out of its behind-the-scenes area.