It was not a lost sports franchise mascot. Not from the long-lost Vancouver Grizzlies nor from the big, bad Boston Bruins.
It was, in fact, a rare real bear just two blocks from Rogers Arena, right in the concrete forests of downtown Vancouver.
For reasons known only to itself, the small black bear surfaced on the back of a dumpster truck on Monday afternoon as workers prepared to drive away to the dump.
It was a first for the city’s downtown core, police said. “Skunks, coyotes, but never a bear,” said Constable Lindsey Houghton.
“We were tipping a bin into the dumpster and a guy across the street yelled out that a bear just fell out into the dumpster,” said Bret Dougherty, owner of MiniBins. “Then the bear crawled up onto the edge of the dumpster, trying to decide what to do next.”
Police quickly roped off the streets and summoned B.C. conservation officer Alex Desjardins, who dispatched the bewildered bear into slumber land with a few tranquilizers.
“The bear was sitting on top of the truck like he was king of the world,” Mr. Desjardins said. He used a hand-held tranquilizer gun and a “jab pole” with a syringe at the end.
“It was pretty textbook. There were hundreds of people looking on and I got big round of applause.”
The dozing bear was driven off in a pickup truck to await a soft awakening at a wildlife compound in North Vancouver.
Mr. Desjardins said the bear would likely be released on Tuesday in the Upper Squamish Valley.
“That’s a first for me,” the conservation officer said of having to deal with a downtown bear.
He speculated the bear got in the dumpster during a pickup in North Vancouver, where bears are common. “It’s extremely unlikely that a bear could make it downtown without being spotted.”
Mr. Dougherty disagreed.
“Our driver said the dumpster was empty when he drove downtown. Some conservation guy is going to get a downtown posting after this.”
The news that a small black bear had been sighted in the heart of the city sent the Twitterverse into paroxysms of excitement, and #bear was soon trending.
“We should never have pulled out of Kyoto,” read one tweet.
Another wondered: “Why couldn’t we have tranquilized the Boston Bruins when they came to town?”