An orphaned bear cub escaped from U.S. Department of Fish and Game officials and scampered up a tree at the California Living Museum Saturday, resulting in the facility closing down for about four hours.
The black bear was recaptured and the zoo reopened after the animal was secured. About 40 guests were visiting the zoo at 10500 Alfred Harrell Highway at the time. No one was injured.
Fish and Game had caught the cub in Lebec and brought it to CALM for temporary housing while arrangements were made to release it in a more remote area.
The bear hit the side of its carrier as it was being moved and the door popped open, allowing it to flee its captors about 12:30 p.m. Saturday, said zoo manager Lana Fain.
The 16-pound cub ran from a bear den where it was to have been placed in isolation to a tree near the parking lots at the front of the zoo. Officials at first tried to wait it out, but when it refused to budge the Bakersfield Fire Department sprayed it with a hose for motivation.
"It was scared to death but also dehydrated, so when it felt the water it stayed put and tried to drink," Fain said.
Eventually a Fish and Game official climbed a fire department ladder with a net and dragged the feisty bear down, Fain said.
Visitors were evacuated immediately after the bear escaped. The zoo reopened about 4:30 p.m. Saturday.