Province investigates after grizzly bear fed ice cream at Innisfail fast-food restaurant
The province is investigating after video of a grizzly bear eating ice cream at a Dairy Queen restaurant in Innisfail surfaced online earlier this week.
The bear, named Berkley was hand fed the treat by the restaurant’s owner and officials with the province say they are investigating the video and the terms of the zoo’s permit, which is regulated by Alberta Environment and Parks.
The province issued a statement to CTV News on Thursday saying…
“Public safety is a top priority for our government. The content of the video in question is disturbing and both Environment and Parks and the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch are actively investigating this incident. The involvement of Discovery Wildlife Park in this matter is also subject to investigation. If non-compliance is found, action will be to taken. We would like to remind members of the public not to feed or approach wildlife. Human-bear conflicts can arise when the animal learns to associate people with food.”
Discovery Wildlife Park maintains that there are no safety issues and that the video was mean to bring attention to wildlife conservation.
“It’s really hard to get people's attention, to pay attention to conservation so a little bit of out-of-the box, uniqueness, we got people’s attention,” said Serena Boss, Berkley’s keeper.
Some bear experts are concerned by the approach.
“It’s commodifying an animal in a way that encourages people to take exactly the wrong message away from what they are seeing,” said Kevin Van Tighem.
Boss says bears like Berkley are ambassadors of the park and help educate people.
She says Berkley is domesticated and used to being fed and stresses that people should never approach or feed bears in the wild.
The Kodiak bear is a year old and was taken in as a rescue by the wildlife facility in Innisfail.
(With files from Kathy Le)