Bears test bear-resistant containers at the Alaska Zoo

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Alaska Zoo held its annual Bear Aware event in honor of Mother's Day with crowds gathering to watch as brown and black bears tested various bear-resistant containers.

The black bears came out first and were unsuccessful breaking into any containers deemed bear resistant. They did however make short work of an everyday cooler and an unsecured trash can.

Izzy, a young male brown bear, was much more aggressive as he laid waste to some bear-resistant trash cans that are commercially available.

The young bear could be heard banging and clattering the bars from inside his enclosure while zookeepers placed trash cans, a bear-resistant cooler and a backpacker cache around the enclosure outside.

When he was released, he grabbed a Toter can given to the zoo from Solid Waste Services and took it to the pond in the side of his enclosure.

After a long struggle he managed to put a hole into the side of it after pressing his weight onto it, pushing it underwater and much biting.

Stephanie Hartman, the education coordinator of the Alaska Zoo, said it was the first time she had seen a bear put a hole in a brand new bear-resistant can but stressed he was much more determined than a bear in the wild.

Area biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Dave Battle, described how his technique resembled his successful entry into a can last year.

In that instance, Izzy filled a relatively uncommon trash can made by manufacturer Kodiak with water. He then held it upside down and "pile-drived it," according to Battle.

The manufacturer said while upside down, the water pressure opened a mechanism that is used by automated trash collecting machines.

After cracking a hole in the Toter, Izzy moved onto the Rehrig, a model donated by Alaska Waste that could soon come out around Anchorage.

After dropping the can, stretching, and biting it, he managed to stretch open the lid a little to lick away at the treats inside.

Hartman stressed that both entries were outside the 20-minute limit that is seen as a "pass" for bear-resistant can manufacturers.

Although fun for the hordes of people watching, there is a serious side to the demonstration.

"The most important thing is getting people to secure their attractants," said Battle. "If you have a neighbor that is leaving their garbage outside and they say they haven't had a bear yet, yet is the operative word."

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