BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A 220-pound black bear who managed to climb out of a South Texas zoo exhibit took a dip in a pond with some harbor seals before staffers tranquilized him.
No one was hurt in the incident Monday at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville. Zoo spokeswoman Cynthia Galvan said Tuesday that the male bear, named Oscar, is staying in his sleeping quarters, out of public view, until repairs are made to cracks in the concrete wall of the bear grotto.
Oscar apparently made his way out by digging his claws into cracks in the grotto's concrete wall, Galvan said.
"A zoo visitor witnessed that he was trying to climb the wall, went to report it to one of the zoo employees," Galvan said.
When staff arrived, Oscar was already out. "He meandered his way through the amphitheater and into the harbor seals' pool for a dip," Galvan said.
Staff members contained him within 15 minutes at the pool, Galvan said. The zoo was locked down, with visitors safely moved into buildings, for about 90 minutes, Galvan said. Meanwhile, the zoo's two harbor seals seemed unfazed by the bear, she said.
"From what I understand everyone was just swimming around. They didn't seem bothered by the bear and the bear didn't seem bothered by them," Galvan said.
Staffers waited for Oscar to leave the pool, then eased him through some opened doors, leading to a behind-the-scenes area, before using a dart to tranquilize him, Galvan said.
Oscar was captured in the wild, in Starr County, in 2012 and is believed to be about 4 years old, Galvan said. The zoo's only other black bear is a female who is about 2 years old.