Black bear breaks into Knoxville Zoo

Mike Krumboltz
The Sideshow

File photo of a black bear (Thinkstock)
File photo of a black bear (Thinkstock)

The Knoxville Zoo must have a pretty good Yelp rating, because a black bear was spotted breaking into (not out of) the zoo on Monday night, reports.

The bear climbed a 10-foot-tall chain-link fence around the zoo's perimeter before a zoo ranger spotted the unauthorized visitor and alerted staff. reports that the staff, suspecting the bear might be one of their own, did a count of their residents, but none were missing.

The police were notified, and zoo rangers began to search the interior of the park. However, the bear was not seen again. According to, zoo spokeswoman Tina Rolen said rangers believe the bear climbed back over the fence shortly after making its covert entrance.

The bear's current location is unknown. The zoo's Executive Director Lisa New told, "Of course our first concern is to ensure the safety of our visitors and animals. We are also concerned about the welfare of our wandering bear, who hopefully has made his way to a more rural area."

Amy Flew, curator of mammals at the Knoxville Zoo, told that wandering black bears aren't particularly uncommon.

"This is when the younger bears are starting to seek out their own territory," Flew said. "Unfortunately, with the close proximity of our homes to their habitats, sometimes we may cross paths."

The bear's break-in stands in contrast to Rusty the red panda's great escape from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., on Monday. In that instance, zoo staff alerted the public on Twitter and Facebook that Rusty had busted out.

Rusty was found a short time later and returned to his home unharmed.