Bear gets on its bike at Berlin Zoo

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The Independent Online

Staff at Berlin's internationally renowned zoo were working to restore public confidence yesterday after a 110kg South American bear escaped from its enclosure and spent more than half an hour frolicking in a children's playground before being knocked out by a tranquilliser dart.

Staff at Berlin's internationally renowned zoo were working to restore public confidence yesterday after a 110kg South American bear escaped from its enclosure and spent more than half an hour frolicking in a children's playground before being knocked out by a tranquilliser dart.

The bid for freedom came at the same zoo where a gorilla, Bokito, recently escaped from his cage but was captured and returned without anyone being hurt. Juan, the Andean spectacled bear, astounded visitors at Berlin Zoo on Sunday when he manoeuvered a tree trunk to the edge of his fenced bear-pit and clambered up it and over a wall into a hastily withdrawing crowd of adults and children.

"The important thing to do in this kind of situation is to keep cool and fortunately that is exactly what people did," said Heiner Kloes, Berlin Zoo's deputy director, yesterday.

Juan made straight for the playground, took a ride on a roundabout, slid down a slide and lounged for 10 minutes on a climbing frame. Zoo keepers attracted his interest by placing a bicycle in his path. As he was puzzling over it, the keepers put a spoke in his wheel with the tranquillising dart. Seven men had to lug the unconscious bear back to its pit on a tarpaulin.

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