A bear escaping from its enclosure caused an afternoon of chaos at the zoo.
The bear was able to escape through a broken window in its enclosure and terrorise zoo visitors.
A spokesperson for the zoo said that the zoo was currently undertaking urgent window repairs in Melbourne, and in their other locations as a precaution. Zoo goers who were evacuated were invited to come back for a complimentary visit to compensate for their trip being cut short.
The 400 kilogram brown bear was able to push the broken window out of its frame and squeeze through the gap. The bear reportedly roamed the grounds of the zoo and snatched food from terrified children.
No zoo visitors were hurt in the incident, although several patrons are being treated for shock.
Zookeepers immediately evacuated visitors from the area. Visitors were allowed to remain in selected sections including the butterfly enclosure and the zebras.
The majority of the zoo remained empty as zookeepers coaxed the bear into a temporary cage with reinforced windows.
Frightened zoo visitor Sue Phillips said that she would not come back after the incident.
“I thought the zoo would be a nice place for a family day out, but now all my children have a crippling fear of bears,” she said.
“I had to take away their teddies because they could not sleep with a bear in the bed. I also had to hide all of the books that mention bears, including some of their favourites.”
The zoo is currently in the process of ordering triple-strength new timber windows, Melbourne zoo visitors are advised that the bear enclosure is closed until the window replacement is complete.
All windows of the enclosure including those which were not broken are being replaced, as a safety precaution. It is expected that the zoo will install bars across the windows to avoid similar incidents in future.
The long-term impact of the bear incident on tourism is not known at this stage.