A viral video showing a Kodiak bear eating ice cream at a Canadian drive-thru window has led to a criminal charge for the owners of the zoo where the bear resides.
“We made a mistake,” Doug Bos, one of the owners of Discovery Wildlife Park in Innisfail, Alberta, told The Guardian on Wednesday. “I’m embarrassed about it. 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.”
Under the terms of the zoo’s permit, the zoo must tell government officials if an animal will be leaving the zoo, Alberta Fish and Wildlife said in a statement sent to The Guardian. Bos and co-owner Debbie Rowland are now each facing one charge related to the bear, named Berkley, taking a trip to Dairy Queen earlier this year. They’re facing a second charge for allegedly not informing officials in 2017 that Berkley, then a young orphan, was being taken to a home at night for bottle feeding.
Bos told The Canadian Press that they intend to plead guilty.
The video that prompted the charges went viral on social media back in January. It showed Berkley leaning out the window of a vehicle, eating ice cream off a spoon held by the drive-thru worker.
The Dairy Queen trip sparked a legal investigation from safety and animal officials in the province, CBC reported at the time. Some wildlife experts criticized the video, saying it contradicted efforts to try to teach the public not to feed bears in the wild. Bos countered that no one was ever in any danger, because Berkley was on a chain and the Dairy Queen wasn’t actually open.
Zoocheck Canada, an animal welfare group that monitors zoo conditions, told CBC that Discovery Wildlife Park had previously faced multiple violations relating to safety and living conditions for the animals. Zoocheck’s 2015 review of the facility cited issues including enclosures that were too small, inadequate shelter from the elements, and insufficient enrichment for some animals.