Ricki the Bear headed from York County to Colorado

Written by Ted Czech, York Daily Record | Feb 10, 2015 1:18 PM

Photo by File -- Daily Record/Sunday News

(York) -- Ricki the Bear was moved Monday morning from her longtime home at Jim Mack's Ice Cream in Hellam Township, headed to a bear sanctuary in Colorado, according to Amanda Welling, a plaintiff in a suit against Ricki's former owner.

"I'm just happy she's going to a good place," Welling said. "We're just very thankful to him, the owner (James McDaniel Jr.), for letting this happen. He could've been very tough about it."

Ricki is being driven to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, a place Welling described as "one of the most well-respected bear sanctuaries in North America."

Welling was among four area residents who filed a public-nuisance civil suit, asking for Ricki to be moved because they did not believe she was receiving proper care.

Welling said that because of Ricki's age, 18, she will be slowly introduced to other "elderly" bears on 15 acres.

Welling said the process to extract Ricki began about 7 a.m. at Jim Mack's Ice Cream, 5745 Lincoln Highway. Welling, along with the three other plaintiffs in the case, two lawyers, and a veterinarian were there, she said.

At first, a transport cage was placed at a hole that had been cut in the fence to Ricki's cage. Welling said the transport cage "was nicer than the cage she had lived in" at Jim Mack's.

But when Ricki wouldn't willingly walk into the transport cage -- most likely scared because of the noise that had been going on -- the veterinarian called for Ricki to be tranquilized, Welling said.

The entire process of extracting Ricki took about an hour, she said. Ricki will be driven to Colorado in a vehicle that resembled a horse trailer, Welling said.

"I think we all got a little emotional," she said of the event.

After Ricki was taken away, Welling said she and the other plaintiffs walked into her cage "and just stood there and tried to imagine what it would have been like to be stuck in that cage for so long."

McDaniel, who also is known as Jimmy Mack Jr., could not be reached for comment Monday.

Earlier this year, McDaniel disputed any claims of mistreatment, saying, "She's very well taken care of - I believe that, oh my gosh, yes."

Another plaintiff, Angela Santmier, said she and the other plaintiffs were "thrilled" at the outcome.

"We're ecstatic that she's out of there; of course, we're happy about Ricki," she said. "But even bigger than that is the message it's sending that it's wrong -- keeping animals out of their natural habitat for entertainment or profit motive -- is wrong."

After being served the lawsuit, McDaniel hired lawyers, and at one point made a suggestion as to where he would like to see Ricki located.

In addition to the lawsuit, comedian-actor Ricky Gervais weighed in on his Facebook account, writing, "This is heartbreaking. Please sign & share the petition to help free Ricky the bear."

However, some patrons of Jim Mack's Ice Cream believed Ricki should have stayed where she had been living for 18 years.

This story has been edited to reflect the group, Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, was not involved with the decision of where Ricki was placed. 

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record

Published in News, York

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