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Zoo slammed for taking bear through ice cream drive thru

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Sunday, January 21, 2018, 10:19 AM - A viral video depicting a bear being fed ice cream through a drive-thru window is being harshly criticized, and the province is investigating.

The video, shot in Innisfail, Alta., depicts a Dairy Queen worker feeding a Kodiak bear named Berkely, a resident of nearby Discovery Wildlife Park zoo, while the bear is in a truck. A provincial government spokesman told the Calgary Herald it is investigating to see if any regulations were violated, and for their part, zoo staff say say there was no danger, the bear had been ‘well trained,’ and the incident was in keeping with the zoo’s efforts employing animals as ambassadors for conservation.

“We have put out hundreds of conservation messages on social media over the years,” said trainer Serena Bos, according to the Herald. The video has since been deleted from Facebook.

International wildlife protection group Zoocheck says the province needs to ensure cases like this don’t happen again, pointing to zoo regulations passed in 1995 that set out safety features for zoos housing potentially dangerous animals.

“So you have rules for fencing and gates and, you know, protocols for dealing with animals and all those types of things but all of those are out the window when you put your animal in the car and take him to the Dairy Queen!” Spokesman Rob Laidlaw told The Weather Network.

Laidlaw also doesn’t buy the zoo’s defense that the bear in question was not wild, pointing out humans often understimate animals thought to be tame, pointing to the 2003 attack by a tiger on Roy Horn, one half of the famous Siegfried and Roy animal act duo.

“An animal is always safe until it’s not. We see this all the time where people downplay the risk and many of them suffer the consequences of doing that,” he says.

Laidlaw said he understood the zoo’s attempt at raising awareness about conservation, but this was “exactly the wrong way to do it.”

“I think the only message people will get out of this is that these are cuddly animals, that they’re like big dogs, we can take them in our car and we can take them to Dairy Queen and I think what they’ve done will actually be entirely contrary and undermine what they had supposedly hoped to achieve by doing this,” he says.

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