A Kodiak bear is fed ice cream in a Dairy Queen drive-thru in a screengrab from a video posted to Facebook by the Discovery Wildlife Park. Photo from THE CANADIAN PRESS

Ice-cream-eating bear draws controversy

An Alberta Wildlife Park posted a video this week of one of their bears going through a Dairy Queen drive-through

Discovery Wildlife Park owner Dog Bos said his Dairy Queen drive-through bear video that drew criticism was meant only to spread a conservation and safety message.

“Our whole goal was to promote conservation. That was the whole goal of it all, to get the message out there to don’t feed the bears … to don’t stop on the side of the road,” said Bos on Friday.

“It’s unfortunate that a small amount of people viewed it one way and a large amount of people that viewed it our way I guess.”

When the story was picked up by the media, animal experts voiced their displeasure, calling the video irresponsible.

The province says it plans to investigate, a move that Bos welcomes. He has already been in contact with Fish and Wildlife and hopes they can come to his zoo next week

“There’s going to be an investigation. That’s good because that’s what their job is,” he said.

“I’m glad to see there’s going to be an investigation because that’s what they’re all about, making sure everything is OK and animals are not harmed and the public is not harmed and stuff like that.”

Bos said the one-year-old bear named Berkley was taken to the Dairy Queen before it opened last Sunday to shoot the video. He and three other Discovery Wildlife Park staff — not seen in the video — were there to ensure the shoot went off safely.

The Kodiak bear, who was on a chain, was raised in zoos and well trained.

Discovery Wildlife Park has used its website to spread its conservation message previously. But the number of views has been limited.

The video was seen as a way to get the message out to a wider audience using social media.

“Our whole goal was just to attract people to our message. It wasn’t to get extra attendance. We’re not even open at this time of year.

“It was just to create bear awareness and get it out there. At the end of the day, there are hundreds of thousands of people who got the message: don’t feed the bears.”

Given the controversy, Bos said they will carefully consider the best way to get their message out in the future.

“I guess we’ll re-think our media tactics in the future and make sure we’ve got a message that people will listen to and maybe co-ordinate more with Fish and Wildlife.”



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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