A central Alberta zoo is facing two charges under the province’s Wildlife Act after a bear was taken through a drive-thru for ice cream.
A video, posted on social media in January by Discovery Wildlife Park in Innisfail, showed a one-year-old captive Kodiak bear named Berkley leaning out a truck’s window and being hand-fed ice cream by the owner of the local Dairy Queen.
Officials with the province investigated the video and the terms of the zoo’s permit.
“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,” said a statement from Fish and Wildlife.
One count is related to the bear being taken through the drive-thru for ice cream, while the other stems from the bear leaving the facility on other occasions in 2017.
The charges were laid against Discovery Wildlife Park and its owners, Doug Bos and Debbie Rowland, under Section 12(3) of the Wildlife Act, which states a person must not contravene the terms or conditions of a licence or permit.
Bos said they made a mistake.
“What we got charged for under the act was that we failed to notify them that we were going to do those things,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “We were busy, we made a mistake and we didn’t email them and tell them.
“I’m glad that they followed through with it because it shows how strictly regulated the zoo industry is in the province.”
Bos said they plan to plead guilty on May 28 when they are to appear in provincial court in Red Deer, Alta.
The zoo’s permit, which is regulated by Alberta Environment and Parks, has been revised to impose new conditions.
They include requiring the zoo to provide more details when asking to transport a controlled animal or wildlife and to keep those animals in a cage, crate or kennel when in a vehicle.
It also says the zoo cannot put any animals on display outside the facility without prior permission from the province nor can it allow any member of the public to have physical contact with animals such as monkeys, cougars, wolves or bears.