Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Lawsuit to Save Bear Stuck at Pennsylvania Ice Cream ShopPosted 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.
Sign ALDF’s pledge to boycott Jim Mack’s until Ricky is released to a reputable, accredited sanctuary.