May 10 (UPI) — A Canadian zoo has been charged under the country’s Wildlife Act after officials took a bear for ice cream at a Dairy Queen drive-through.
The Discovery Wildlife Park, located in Innisfail, Alberta, has been charged under the Wildlife Act for taking a bear outside the facility without notifying authorities. The zoo is being charged with an additional count after it emerged that the bear was being taken to an employee’s home each night for bottle feeding in 2017.
“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,” Alberta Fish and Wildlife said in a statement.
The zoo posted a video of the bear’s Dairy Queen trip in January, but it was taken down after widespread criticism. The video showed the Kodiak bear, Berkley, being hand-fed ice cream by a Dairy Queen drive-through employee while riding in the passenger seat of a pickup truck.
The zoo had defended the video as a message about safety.
“The message was: Don’t feed the bears. Don’t stop on the side of the road,” zoo co-owner Doug Bos told CBC News in January. “If everybody would listen to the video, that’s what the message was — don’t do this.”
Bos and co-owner Debbie Rowland said they plan to plead guilty to the charges.
“We made a mistake. I’m embarrassed about it,” Bos told The Guardian. “Every time we take an animal off the property, we’re supposed to notify Fish and Wildlife, send them an email, and we forgot to do that in both instances.”