Wednesday 26 June 2019

Zoo faces charges after taking bear for ice cream at Dairy Queen drive-thru

Footage shows Berkley the Kodiak bear leaning out of the passenger window and licking an ice cream cone

Samuel Osborne

A Canadian zoo has been charged after it took a bear out for ice cream at a Dairy Queen drive-thru and posted the video online.

Footage showed the one-year-old Kodiak bear, called Berkley, leaning out of the passenger window of a pickup truck and licking an ice cream cone held by the restaurant's owner.

Discovery Wildlife Park took the video down following widespread criticism, but initially defended it by saying it was supposed to be a message about safety.

"The message was: Don't feed the bears. Don't stop on the side of the road," Doug Bos, the owner of the zoo, told CBC News in January, when the footage was shared.

"If everybody would listen to the video, that's what the message was – don't do this."

At the time, a trainer said there were no safety concerns, as the bear was secured by a chain and the film had been taken before the Dairy Queen had opened for the day.

The zoo, located in Innisfail, Alberta, has now been charged under the Wildlife Act for taking the bear out without informing the authorities – one count relates to the ice cream excursion and the other for failing to inform officials the bear was being taken home nightly for bottle-feeding in 2017.

The owners of the wildlife park, Mr Bos and Debbie Rowland, have said they plan to plead guilty.

“We made a mistake. I’m embarrassed about it,” Mr Bos told The Guardian. “Every time we take an animal off the property, we’re supposed to notify Fish and Wildlife, send them an email, and we forgot to do that in both instances.”

The zoo's permit has also been revised to include new conditions requiring the zoo to provide more details when transporting animals and to keep them in a cage, crate or kennel while in a vehicle.

Members of the public will also be barred from having any contact with animals, including bears.

Independent News Service

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