An international wildlife protection charity says they hope the Alberta government sends a strong message as it investigates a central Alberta zoo that took one of its bears through a drive-thru for ice cream.
The video, posted on social media this week by the Discovery Wildlife Park in Innisfail, showed a one-year old captive bear named Berkley leaning out a truck’s window and being hand-fed ice cream by the owner of the Innisfail Dairy Queen. It has since been removed.
The province launched two investigations into the video after bear experts called it irresponsible and disrespectful — although a zoo trainer defended it as an educational video done “on purpose for a purpose.”
Zoocheck spokesman Rob Laidlaw said the province needs to make sure a similar “stunt” never happens again.
“It’s ridiculous, it’s entirely irresponsible,” he said. “(The province) should be looking at this and sending a message to anybody else who might be contemplating this type of activity that it’s not appropriate and make sure there are repercussions for doing this.”
The province’s investigation will look at the video and the zoo’s operating permit to determine whether there were any violations.
They will act if necessary, Alberta Fish and Wildlife spokesman Brendan Cox said late Thursday.
Serena Bos, who works at the Discovery Wildlife Park, said the zoo welcomes the province’s investigation.
“That’s their job, their responsibility,” she said Friday. “We totally respect them for that — they always look into any issues regarding animals. We’ve always complied with Fish and Wildlife, any of the inspections that they do with us and (accept) them with open arms.”
Bos said she realizes the video didn’t have the intended result, but said the bear wasn’t harmed. She added that the park will continue to educate the public about wildlife, but noted that they won’t do it the same way.
The province, bear experts and Zoocheck said the video goes against every message about why it’s important not to feed wild animals.
“To me, it’s sort of cut and dry,” said Laidlaw. “Anybody who’s sensible that cares about animals or human safety should be saying that the province has got to do something to make sure this never happens again.”
Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press