A wayward black bear decided to make an unscheduled stop at Knoxville Zoo in the middle of the night. Zoo rangers spotted the surprise visitor in neighboring Chilhowee Park before the bear
was observed scaling the zoo’s perimeter fence around 12:00 a.m. this morning.
Zoo staff quickly implemented safety protocols, including a quick accounting of the zoo’s four resident black bears. Once it was confirmed that the interloper was indeed a wandering black bear from parts unknown, zoo rangers and staff immediately began a sweep of the zoo’s property in an attempt to locate the bear. Although multiple searches of the zoo’s 53 acres have been made, no sign of the youngster has turned up.
Knoxville Police Department dispatchers were notified of the bear sighting and veterinarians from the U.T. College of Veterinary Medicine and TWRA wildlife officers were standing by to offer
assistance if needed. When no indications were found that the wondering bear was still on zoo grounds, zoo officials opened the zoo as scheduled.
Wandering black bears are not uncommon this time of year, according to Amy Flew, curator of mammals. Knoxville Zoo said if the bear is located on zoo grounds, they will waive his admission fee.