Canadian zoo officials are in hot water after taking a bear out for a cold treat, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Innisfail, Alberta’s Discovery Wildlife Park has been charged with crimes related to public safety after posting a video to Twitter in January showing a 1-year-old Kodiak bear, Berkley, eating ice cream off a spoon from a truck window at a Dairy Queen drive thru, while the narration provides facts about bears.
The video drew immediate condemnation from wildlife experts who warned that it sends the wrong message about human interactions with wild animals.
"It's a challenge every day out there in our parks and protected areas to try to teach people who are visiting these places or live here in Alberta that we don't feed wildlife, that we don't feed bears," Kim Titchener, a wildlife safety trainer, told CBC.
“We need to conserve and protect them and respect them," she said.
Doug Bos, one of the private zoo’s owners, defended the video, insisting that the public wasn’t in danger, and that the video was meant to send a positive message.
“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,” Bos told CBC.
Provincial officials have revised the zoo’s permit to impose stricter guidelines about how and when handlers can transport animals and take them off the premises, the CBC reported. The new permit states that animals in vehicles must be in a cage, crate or kennel at all times, and that the public is not allowed to have any contact with most animals, including bears, wolves and monkeys.
Bos said he plans to plead guilty to the charges.
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