Image: Polar bears
Milwaukee Zoo via AP
Zero the polar bear, left, swims with Snow Lilly at the Milwaukee County Zoo in Sept. 2007. Zero stumbled unhurt into a dry moat at the zoo more than two weeks ago and made no effort to return to his home, so keepers anesthetized him Thursday and hoisted him out with a crane.
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updated 10/30/2008 7:38:56 PM ET 2008-10-30T23:38:56

A polar bear that fell into a dry moat at his zoo enclosure more than two weeks ago was rescued Thursday by officials who hoisted him out with a crane.

Zero the bear was playing with a toy on Oct. 13 at the Milwaukee County Zoo when he tumbled off the edge of his exhibit and landed unhurt on netting a few feet above the moat floor. Zoo officials cut the net so the bear could drop safely.

Officials had hoped the 19-year-old polar bear, described as middle-aged, would use a nearby stairway in the moat to climb back to his exhibit, but he stayed where he was. The zoo tried to tempt him out with treats such as apples, peanut butter and herring, but officials were forced to physically remove him when efforts proved unsuccessful.

Zoo officials anesthetized him and pulled the 1,100-pound (500-kilogram) bear out Thursday morning.

"I think the zoo staff was just concerned that this was going on too long," zoo spokeswoman Jennifer Diliberti said. "He's resting now and is being monitored by the staff."

The zoo said Zero's position in the moat was low enough that visitors, who are separated from the enclosure by a fence, were never in danger.

Zoo babiesZookeepers had been providing Zero with half his normal food rations, hoping hunger would drive him from the moat. But they began to worry about the long-term effects of denying Zero his full menu, zoo director Chuck Wikenhauser said.

A veterinarian confirmed Zero was unhurt when he was lifted from the moat, zoo director Chuck Wikenhauser said.

Zero fell into the same moat 15 years ago and stayed there for nine days before climbing out on the stairs.

Wikenhauser said Zero probably did not remember how he escaped and probably has lost some of his agility since then.

The zoo planned to look at modifications that could help a bear extricate itself from the moat in the future. Keepers were considering making the staircase easier to navigate, as long as it wouldn't tempt the bears to walk down into the moat, Wikenhauser said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Brr! "Zero" the bear moved from moat

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