FINALLY: Ricki The Bear Is Free From Ice Cream Shop Cage
After 16 years alone in a tiny cage outside an ice cream parlor, Ricki the bear is free.
On Monday she was headed to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, a grassy 15-acre retirement home - a stark change from the fenced-in, concrete-floor enclosure at Jim Mack's Ice Cream in Pennsylvania, where she was fed dog food and corn for years. The sanctuary is home to 98 other black bears and over 32 grizzly bears.
The move was spurred by a lawsuit filed on behalf of Pennsylvania residents, who pushed for Ricki's freedom after seeing her poor living conditions. The lawsuit, filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), was settled with Jim McDaniels, the owner of the ice cream shop, and resulted in Ricki's big move.
Ricki's cause was supported by animal advocates across the country, and actor Ricky Gervais took to the campaign on Twitter.
This month, McDaniels finally agreed to let the bear go to a sanctuary.
"Our legal team is thrilled that Mr. McDaniel has made the ethical choice to send Ricky to the experienced professionals at the Wild Animal Sanctuary," Matthew Liebman, senior attorney for ALDF, said in a statement. "We were prepared to litigate until Ricky was free, but this decision will save everyone time and money and Ricky won't have to wait any longer to feel the earth beneath her paws."