Here’s Why the Story of the Ice Cream–Eating Bear Is Far From Cute

Written by Zachary Toliver | May 11, 2018

Over the past five years, PETA has helped rescue 72 bears from rusty cages; filthy, cramped concrete pits; and abusive traveling acts. We’ve done so much to change how people think that bears should be treated. But stories like this remind us that we still have a lot of work in front of us.

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A roadside zoo in Alberta, Canada, is facing charges after unlawfully taking a 1-year-old bear named Berkley on an ice cream outing.

It wasn’t fun; it wasn’t cute. It was abuse.

Although formal charges are just now being brought, the reckless trip took place in January. The original video posted by Discovery Wildlife Park—which showed a bear sitting in the passenger’s seat of a truck while being hand-fed ice cream by a Dairy Queen worker—was taken down after receiving massive criticism.

As reported by The Guardian, authorities in Alberta stated that the wildlife park owners face two charges. “Under the terms and conditions of the zoo’s permit, the charges are directly related to the alleged failure of the park to notify the provincial government prior to the bear leaving the zoo.”

There’s nothing “fun” about being dragged around by a leash and loaded into a truck.

Berkley was only a year old at the time—she should still have been with her mother up to the age of 2. If she was “orphaned,” she should have been placed with an appropriate adult female bear for fostering, as a reputable facility would have done. Instead, she’s been used for a cruel and illegal photo op.

We can only imagine how confused she must have been. Shoving bears into trucks would be as distressing to them a being abducted by aliens would be to humans. If anything can potentially stress an unwilling animal, it’s simply not worth it. Also, the Dairy Queen worker’s hands were mere inches away from Berkley’s powerful jaws—what would have happened if the bear had decided that enough was enough?

Berkley isn’t the only bear Discovery Wildlife Park has exploited for kicks. Its owner, Doug Bos, told The Guardian that it has “done lots of TV commercials, Super Bowl commercials with bears and food. … Some of them the bear was in a grocery store and wandered up and down the aisles.”

No bears—or any wild animals, for that matter—willingly perform tricks. They do so only out of fear of being beaten, whipped, prodded, or shocked when they fail. Under these conditions, it’s no surprise when wild animals lash out at “trainers.”

What You Can Do

Berkley and countless other bears trapped in circuses and roadside zoos deserve more than to be used as spectacles for cheap human amusement. Help PETA end other abusive shows by telling Castle’s Bears and Welde’s Big Bear Show that no one wants to watch animals perform stupid tricks.

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