Black bear pays late night visit to Knoxville Zoo

Black bear pays late night visit to Knoxville Zoo

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A black bear attraction at the Knoxville Zoo is drawing in more than just human tourists.

Zoo rangers spotted a young black bear in nearby Chilhowee Park around midnight early Tuesday morning shortly before the bear was seen scaling the perimeter fence of the zoo.

Once staffers confirmed that the bear was not one of their own, they began sweeping zoo property to find the wayward bear.

After no signs of the bear turned up during multiple searches, the zoo opened as normal.

"Of course our first concern is to ensure the safety of our visitors and animals," said Lisa New, executive director of Knoxville Zoo said in a news release.

"We are also concerned about the welfare of our wandering bear, who hopefully has made his way to a more rural area. Of course, our Black Bear Falls is one of the top habitats in the country, so maybe word has gotten out in the black bear community," she continued.

Several bears have been spotted in the Knoxville area in recent weeks, which zoo officials say isn't uncommon for this time of year.

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

Knoxville Zoo said if the bear is located on zoo grounds, they will waive his admission fee.

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