After spending 16 years living in a concrete enclosure at a Pennsylvania ice cream shop, Ricky the black bear is finally free!

You are probably thinking that an ice cream shop is no place for a bear, and you are 100 percent right. However, many wild animals, like Ricky, are condemned to this sad excuse for a life because of the novelty value they add to roadside tourist attractions. Tony, the tiger who currently lives at a truck stop in Louisiana, is another example of this kind of abuse.

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After 16 Years Living at a Roadside Ice Cream Shop, Ricky the Bear is Finally Free!YDR

 

Jim Mack’s Ice Cream, located off Lincoln Highway in York, PA, was keeping Ricky in an enclosure that was far too small for a full-grown black bear and she subsisted off of a diet of corn and dog food that was delivered to her via a funnel. With little to no enrichment to fill her days, captivity has taken a toll on Ricky’s physical and mental well-being. The evidence of her distress led countless community members to rally for her release, which has FINALLY been granted!

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After 16 Years Living at a Roadside Ice Cream Shop, Ricky the Bear is Finally Free!ALDF

 

Hearing of Ricky’s plight, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) collaborated with the Philadelphia-based law firm, BakerHostetler, to file a lawsuit against James H. McDaniel, Jr., the owner of Jim Mack’s and Ricky’s keeper. Asserting that McDaniel violated Pennsylvania regulations that require humane care and treatment of wildlife, and created a public safety risk by keeping Ricky in close proximity to customers, the legal team was able to convince McDaniel to release Ricky.

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After 16 Years Living at a Roadside Ice Cream Shop, Ricky the Bear is Finally Free!After 16 Years Living at a Roadside Ice Cream Shop, Ricky the Bear is Finally Free!YDR

 

Arrangements have been made to send Ricky to the Wild Animal Sanctuary, located in Keenesburg, Colorado. This sanctuary is well-equipped to care for large wild animals and Ricky will finally get the chance to enjoy the feeling of grass under her paws!

Animals like Ricky, who have come from abusive and unnatural environments go through a rehabilitation process at the Wild Animal Sanctuary. Once she acclimates to her new space and new-found freedom, she will gain access to the sanctuary’s 720 acres of rolling grassland where she will learn to forage, swim and play like a regular bear. The Wild Animal Sanctuary also cares for a number of rescued bears, so there is a chance she will be able to interact and bond with other animals as well.

After 16 years of solitude and misery, we are so pleased to see Ricky finally get the freedom she deserves. Though, ideally, she would have never been captured from the wild in the first place, compared to a roadside ice cream shop, sanctuary is a welcome oasis.

A big thank you to all the kind people who fought for Ricky’s freedom – we are sure that if she could, she would give you all a big bear hug!