Discovery Wildlife Park, a private zoo in Canada, is facing two charges related to a one-year-old Kodiak bear called Berkley after it posted a video (above) of the bear being fed ice cream at a local Dairy Queen.
The video, originally posted on Facebook in January, shows the bear sitting in the passenger seat of a truck at a drive-through ice cream parlour, being hand-fed ice cream by the owner of the local Dairy Queen. Sure, it’s fascinating to watch the enormous bear taking dainty bites of the ice cream, but the video caused outrage for a number of reasons, and has since been deleted.
Another video, which showed Berkley eating frosting off a cake has also been deleted. Internet users believed it was sending the wrong message to the public about wild animals and was encouraging people to feed them or interact with them.
The zoo, located in the Alberta province of Canada, defended the video, saying it was supposed to be a message about safety. Doug Bos, the owner of the zoo, told CBC News in January, “The message was: Don’t feed the bears. Don’t stop on the side of the road. If everybody would listen to the video, that’s what the message was – don’t do this.” They also added that the bear was secured by a chain throughout the outing, and that they visited the Dairy Queen before it opened for the day.
But it is for entirely different reasons that the park is facing charges. According to CBC News, it has been charged under the Wildlife Act for taking the bear out of the zoo without notifying the provincial government – not just for the ice-cream, but also several times in 2017, when the orphaned Berkley was taken home nightly to be bottle-fed.
Bos told The Guardian that he planned to plead guilty to the charges, adding that it was the first time in the zoo’s 28-year history that such an incident had occurred. He said, “We made a mistake, I’m embarrassed about it.” He also said he was happy to hear of the charges, because they show how strictly regulated the zoo industry in the province is. It is important to note, said Bos, that Berkley is not a wild animal but was hand-raised in captivity and is well-trained.
In light of the incident, the authorities revised the conditions of the zoo’s permit, so the facility will now be required to provide more information when animals are transported, and they will have to keep the animals in a cage, crate or kennel during transport. Members of the public will also be forbidden from having any contact with any animals from the zoo, including bears.