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Wild bear breaks into S. Idaho zoo, climbs tree to wait out Fish and Game officials

The wild black bear at Zoo Idaho is now in custody. Wildlife officers with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game have outfitted the bear with a collar and ear tag for tracking purposes. The bear will now be relocated away from civilization.
The wild black bear at Zoo Idaho is now in custody. Wildlife officers with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game have outfitted the bear with a collar and ear tag for tracking purposes. The bear will now be relocated away from civilization. Courtesy of the city of Pocatello

Most days, zoo officials are on high alert to ensure zoo animals don't get loose.

But today, zookeepers at Zoo Idaho in Pocatello had to contemplate how to get a wild animal out.

This morning, Zoo Idaho’s veterinarian was doing his morning rounds when he spotted a wild black bear on zoo grounds, according to a city of Pocatello Facebook post.

Before wildlife officers with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game could arrive, the bear climbed high — approximately 50 feet — into a pine tree at the zoo.

Wildlife officers were at Zoo Idaho waiting for the bear to come down to a safe height. That's when they hoped to safely tranquilize the bear. A culvert was also deployed.

According to the Idaho State Journal, Zoo Idaho Director Peter Pruett said the bear was safely tranquilized Tuesday afternoon, and Idaho Fish and Game will transport the bear to a safe, more suitable environment away from civilization.

Fish and Game wildlife officers have outfitted the bear with a collar and ear tag for tracking purposes, according to the city of Pocatello.

Zoo Idaho remained closed until the bear was relocated, but it is now reopened for business. Zoo Idaho staff asked the public to avoid the area to help minimize disturbances that would further scare the bear and keep it in the tree.

Zoo Idaho, which was established in 1932, is a 25-acre zoo with 30 exhibits and 145 animals from the Intermountain region. About 23,000 people visit the zoo each year.

Pruett says the zoo already has two black bears and doesn't need another, according to the Associated Press. Officials say the bear is likely a young male looking for new territory.

In 2012, the zoo opened its long awaited Sara W. Ifft Grizzly Bear Exhibit for its bears Stripes and Shoni. The zoo's beloved grizzly bear, Charlie, died in 2009 before the exhibit opened.

There's no word on whether the wild black bear was able to visit Stripes and Shoni, or his fellow black bears, before he took up residence in the tree.

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