Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Lawsuit to Save Bear Stuck at Pennsylvania Ice Cream Shop

Posted on December 30, 2014

Vets Say Inhumane Conditions Cause Suffering for Ricky the Bear, Pose Safety Risk to Children

For immediate release:

Megan Backus, ALDF
Carl W. Hittinger, BakerHostetler

YORK, Pa. — Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit on behalf of concerned Pennsylvania residents against Jim Mack’s Ice Cream for displaying a female black bear named Ricky in inhumane and dangerous conditions. The lawsuit, which was locally filed by co-counsel Carl Hittinger and Brian Saunders of the Philadelphia office of the law firm BakerHostetler, accuses Ricky’s owner, James H. McDaniel, Jr., of violating state regulations that require the humane care and treatment of wild animals such as Ricky. According to the lawsuit, filed with The Court of Common Pleas of York County, the inhumane conditions Ricky has endured for 18 years include an undersized chain-link and concrete cage, a lack of enrichment, and poor overall care. The lawsuit argues that the conditions of Ricky’s confinement also pose a threat to public safety at the Lincoln Highway-based store. Last year, the Animal Legal Defense Fund urged the Pennsylvania Game Commission to revoke Jim Mack’s menagerie permit based on Ricky’s inhumane confinement.

Veterinarians have confirmed that Ricky is suffering from stress, anxiety, and inadequate diet and housing. Dr. Ursula Bechert, DVM, observed Ricky in person and noted that “this hard [concrete] substrate is what the bear lives on 100% of the time, and in the winter, it gets very cold.” A “slow and torturous decline in physical and mental health is inevitable for this bear” at the store, said Dr. Bechert.

Bears require large, environmentally complex spaces in which to engage in their typical movements, such as bathing, exploring, climbing, and denning. Yet Ricky is confined to a small chain-link and concrete pen without enrichment or protection from the weather. And she has been in these conditions for more than 18 years–despite public complaints. In a recent similar case in North Carolina, ALDF, along with concerned local residents and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, successfully convinced the court to release a bear named Ben to a large sanctuary, where he now splashes in his pool, feels earth beneath his feet, and engages in the natural activities of a healthy bear.

“The inhumane treatment of this bear violates Pennsylvania laws intended to protect wild animals from harm,” said Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Independent veterinary experts have confirmed that Ricky is suffering and cannot thrive in these conditions.”

“It is time for Ricky to be released to a sanctuary,” said Carl Hittinger, partner at BakerHostetler, “where she can spend the rest of her life with dignity.”

Copies of the complaint are available by request.

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30 thoughts on “Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Lawsuit to Save Bear Stuck at Pennsylvania Ice Cream Shop

  1. Rebecca Burklow says:

    SHAME on Pennsylvania for allowing this to to on. Bad PR for this state!

  2. Robert Schock says:

    Free this bear immediately. He lives in inappropriate and bad conditions and suffers. This is not acceptable. He deserves a life in much better conditions.

  3. Dennis Wolff says:

    Come on! Bears DO NOT belong like this! Let it go to a Sanctuary, to live a BEARS LIFE. Get some Empathy, think how you would feel.

  4. Manel Dias says:

    This type of imprisonment on helpless, defenceless animals are a Crime against the god’s creations. Poor animals live in much mental agony and deprivation of their born freedom. They can never really truly experience their life free from cruelty and massive abuse & sufferings, away, from their so called human evil owners. What punishment id severe enough for these type of evil sub-humans who have no empathy towards the other living beings. Any one who would do such heartless treatments towards voiceless animals, are hard to fathom.

  5. lesley says:

    This is just awful.

  6. Brittney G says:

    I don’t understand why it would ever be okay to keep a bear at an ICE CREAM shop, what is wrong with people?! I hope one day future generations will look back and find it hard to believe inhumane situations like such ever existed. Animals are NOT for our entertainment. Please send Ricky to a home she deserves.

  7. Soamer says:

    Stop taking advantage of animals and putting them in bad conditions just so you can profit!

  8. Annette Amarose says:

    This kind of thing is horrible for an animal to go thru. Things have to change for the better.

  9. Lois Dow says:

    This bear pacing around his cage is unhappy and bored, just as you or I would be. It is unfair to keep him confined any longer where he will surely become ill. There is a great place for him to join other bears with acres to roam – in Colorado. He deserves a happy life where he would have space and friends.

  10. Susan Attwood says:

    This is terrible! No living creature should have to endure that. Can’t believe it’s happening in America – I really expected more from such a country. From Susan (australia).

  11. Leann Parkinson says:

    Please allow Animal Legal Defense to remove this bear from your establishment and take him to a sanctuary where he belongs. If you choose the right decision your business should quadruple! Please do the humane thing.

  12. Sheri Axtell says:

    SERIOUSLY! Here what he needs conferment in his own cage? Let see if he can live like this. You the owner can make a difference Here the right thing to do is give him up and let him live in the Sanctuary. Became a better person you know this is not write. Are you even a human that can even look in the mirror at yourself?

  13. Carmel Gagne says:

    Free this poor caged bear, you’ve made her duffer enough, no it’s time to let her go to a sanctuary where she can live the rest of her days like a bear should. What right do you have to do this to her, do the right thing and set her free.

  14. suzanne trecallion says:

    What is WRONG with people?When will they give the respect to other species,which is their due? Animals are NOT playthings!!!!!(Maybe they should try keeping that owner in such a cage?!)

  15. Susan S says:

    Let’s put the “owners” in the cage for a month and see how they like it.

  16. judy thorpe says:

    This is the same condition Ben the bear was trapped in and the towns people took the owner to court for abusive conditions Bob Barker had the bear flown to PAWS sanctuary and Ben now lives a happy normal life and Ricky needs rescued from her horrible inhumane living condition and the owner fined for animal abuse which is now a felony.

  17. nancy lowe says:

    Let the poor bear live like it should and lock the ice cream vendor up.

  18. Mary gamelin says:

    Free Ricky the bear !

  19. This poor bear, Ricky, needs much better conditions. She (it’s a she!) must be saved at once. It’s awful to see her in this small cage, all alone! This wild animal needs the humane care and treatment at once, as well as the freedom she deserves. Ricky has been in these conditions for more than 18 years, despite public complaints. Please, let’s end these inhumane conditions.

  20. Gina Marchel says:

    What’s wrong with the people in Pennsylvania to have permitted this all these years? Let’s place the owner of this ice cream place in a cage, and see how much the place will sell?

  21. Denise heitmann says:

    This unacceptable !

  22. Chad A says:

    This is disgusting.

  23. monika says:

    This is so sad…why do we humans torture such innocent animal just because we can..who gives us right..????? Who is responsible for this bears torture??? What if someone hurt him or cage him or kill him….would he be able to question the lord???
    I pray to god ..bless these animals give them a better life….and let thm enjoy there time on earth…cannot imagine if someone takes away my right to live …..
    God bless

  24. cat mailander says:

    Thank you ADLF for trying to help poor Ricky be FREE after 18 years!!!

  25. D Sabin says:

    Hope these signatures make a difference.
    Please Free her from that cage. Move her to an Animal Sanctuary so she can have some freedom. Shame on the humans who have done this and allowed it to continue!

  26. Brenda Thompson says:

    Anyone who visits this place and spends their cash there are actively supporting this cruelty. If the ‘owner’ has no sense of morality then he should be hit where it hurts – in his pocket.

  27. Paul B. says:

    The treatment of Ricky is disgusting. No animal should ever suffer under these conditions for so long. Shame on those responsible. Ricky should be removed immediately to a sanctuary where she can spend her remaining years with care, friendship and most important excellent living conditions!

  28. Christopher Wilhelm says:

    You all make no sense and must be bored all you are doing is complaing this bear ricki has been their for years and you now all of sudden have a problem you guys are like old people who sit out and porch watch just bitch and moan so u all are sick dont post my comment idc but know you all are sick and to actually think ur going to change the life of a bear whos been loved by so many families some people go there to just see ricki

  29. Barbara Lyne says:

    I don’t understand how anyone can think it’s ok to promote their business on the back of an animal’s suffering. I also can’t understand how anyone can make the comment that by freeing this sad, mistreated bear, we will somehow be depriving some families of a trip out just to see a bear in a tiny, inadequate cage. Shame on them! We can not afford to be blind to another’s suffering, animal or human. We must do what’s right – alwsys.

  30. Aubrey West says:

    This is sick, cruel and greedy. This cage is not big enough for a dog to spend his life in, much less a bear. Laws really need to change to protect the innocent.

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