The Saint Louis Zoo recently announced it will transfer Ben, a four-year-old Andean bear who twice escaped his enclosure, to the Gladys Porter Zoo, in Brownsville. A steel mesh fence and cargo clips designed to withstand 450 pounds of stress were no match for Ben, who repeatedly “meddled” with the fence and was soon strolling the zoo grounds. According to a tactfully worded news release, Ben’s “specific and unique personality” is better suited to the habitat at the Brownsville zoo, which has a moat and an electric wire, and whose zookeepers have extensive experience caring for ornery Andean bears (also known, adorably, as spectacled bears).

To get a better understanding of the whole situation, Texas Monthly reached out to Ben for comment. His emailed reply is printed in full below. 

From: [email protected]

To: Texas Monthly

Subject: My plans

Oh, zookeepers. Oh, sweet, dumb zookeepers. What a cute little enclosure they’re preparing. A cliff? A moat? An electric wire? Have at it. They say they’ve been able to keep others like me from escaping, but I’m not just any Andean bear. I’m Ben. I’m a golden god. I am the Houdini of zoo animals. Fences are to me what societal norms are to Matthew McConaughey: things to blow right past! I could escape from the Gladys Porter Zoo faster than a Stripes gas station could sell out of Selena cups. I’ve come up with dozens of escapes just off the top of my head—so many, in fact, that I even have a substantial reject pile. Take a gander at some of them, and just know that the plans I am still considering are even more cunning and unexpected than these.

All the Ways Ben the Bear Is Plotting to Escape the Brownsville Zoo
Ben the Andean bear at the Saint Louis Zoo.Courtesy of Saint Louis Zoo

1. Hijack the airplane taking me to Brownsville, Con Air style

You’d be wise to transport me like Steve Buscemi’s character serial killer Garland Greene, but I know you won’t, and anyway, my intellect and verbosity make me more of a John Malkovich type. Like Malkovich’s Cyrus “the Virus” Grissom, it won’t take long before I think and talk my way out of my shackles and get control of the aircraft. Only, unlike Grissom, I’ll actually make it to a non-extradition country, because I know for a fact that you don’t have the budget for a Nicolas Cage.  

2. Build an online following and start a #FreeBen movement

That same Malkovichian star power means I could become a TikTok icon with a metaphorical snap of my fingers (can’t literally snap them because I don’t technically have fingers). With hoards of zillennials hanging on to my every word, double-tapping all my beauty tutorials, and mimicking my viral “zoo escape challenge,” I’ll make a small fortune from sponsored content deals with Haribo and Charmin. Soon, the Free Ben Movement will grow so large even the New York Times will write about it. Hoping to lock in the 2024 youth vote, President Biden will have no choice but to intervene. I’ll be freed and given the Presidential Medal of Cuteness. 

3. Disappear completely and blame it on “supply chain issues”

The FedEx app will say I’ve been dropped off by the Gladys Porter Zoo’s front door, but I won’t be there, nor will I be waiting in front of any of the zoo’s neighboring buildings. In fact, you’ll never see me again. Blame it on porch pirates, or the way the COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably altered the global supply chain. Your options for remuneration are limited. FedEx will pass you off to the original sender, and your best bet will be to try and get a refund from them. Good luck with that. 

4. Soar away via hot-air balloon, à la Paddington 2

I don’t even like orange marmalade, but I’ll pretend to, and get damn good at making it, so as to woo any nearby humans who might aid me in a daring prison escape. Like Paddington and his cohort of salmon-colored inmates, I’ll soon be flying high over Brownsville. Not sure where I’ll land, but I’m an Andean bear, after all, and I’ve always wanted to visit Peru

5. Stand on top of two other bears in a trench coat and walk right out the front door

Nothing to see here, officers, it’s just me, Barry Grownman. I’ve just been visiting the zoo, something I do when not working my full-time job at the business factory. I’m going to go out the front gate and back to my home, a ten-thousand-square-foot condo with marble countertops that did really well in escrow. 

6. Ask Siri to order me an Uber

Who even needs opposable thumbs these days? Plus, I have an excellent rating: 4.9 stars.