In January, Discovery Wildlife Park posted a video on social media showing a one-year-old female Kodiak bear known as Berkley sitting in the front seat of a car. The video shows Berkley poking her head out of the window and eating an ice cream out of the hands of an owner at a Dairy Queen in Innisfail, a town 70 miles north of Calgary.
A further video showed Berkley enjoying some frosting off an ice-cream cake. After much criticism, both videos were removed.
According to the zoo, the trip to Dairy Queen was not a threat to the public because Berkley was secured throughout the outing, and the drive-thru run had occurred before the business had opened for the day. The zoo also explained that there is a big difference between wild bears and bears that have been raised and trained in their facility.
After officials investigated the video and the terms of the zoo’s permit, the zoo and the owners are facing two charges. Alberta Fish and Wildlife have issued a statement saying: “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.”
While the first charge deals with the Dairy Queen excursion, the second charge dates to 2017, when Berkley had just arrived from a facility in the United States as an orphan. At the time, the cub was being taken home nightly so she could be bottle-fed.
Discovery Wildlife Park owner Doug Bos has decided to plead guilty, and says he feels embarrassed by the incident, explaining that this is the first time that such a thing has happened at this zoo.
In an interview with the Guardian, Bos explains that they are required by law to inform Fish and Wildlife anytime an animal is taken off grounds, but in both instances, they forgot to send an email. He also added that he was happy to be charged: “I’m glad that they followed through with it because it shows how strictly regulated the zoo industry is in the province,” he said. “Because there are so many people out there that think it’s not, they think anybody can just do anything they want.”
The zoo’s permit is now also under consideration. Alberta Environment and Parks will be imposing new stipulations that require Discovery Wildlife Park to disclose more information and details when they request permission to move animals and will have to keep them in a cage, crate or kennel during transport.